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Academic Departments


The Department of Archaeology is dedicated to studying and preserving Monticello's archaeological record, and to deciphering its meaning through comparative research.


Monticello is home to a unique collection of artifacts, antique books, and works of art relating to every aspect of Jefferson's diverse interests as well as to the larger Monticello community.  

Gardens and Grounds

Dedicated to researching, collecting, cultivating, and distributing hundreds of plants that have either a direct connection to Jefferson and Monticello or to the historic gardens of North America.

Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies

ICJS's multidisciplinary approach is a hallmark of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's dedication to advancing broadly the Jeffersonian legacy.

Jefferson Library

A gateway to information on Thomas Jefferson and his life, times, and legacy.

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series Research

The project is creating the definitive edition of Thomas Jefferson's letters and papers for the period from 1809 to 1826.



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Can someone tell my the citation for this quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson?
"What we learn to do, we learn by doing."

Or is it a spurious attribution to Jefferson?

Many believe the source was Aristotle, but Aristotle did not say this--a biographer did.


I don't find this exact quotation in Jefferson's writings. It sounds like a paraphrase of this passage in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts." (see http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.2.ii.html) Some scholars think that Jefferson is referencing this passage in Aristotle in his exhortation to his nephew, Peter Carr, to "...above all things lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, couragious &c. Consider every act of this kind as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties, and increase your worth." (August 10, 1787; see http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl61.htm for full text of letter)


Hi Anna,

I am an RIBA British Architect and Palladio Scholar.
I am visiting Monticello and UVA from Sunday 4th May to Tuesday 6th May 2014.
I would really like to see Jefferson's original copies of Palladio's Four Books of Architecture. Is this possible? Are they in the Library or Visitor's Centre.
I seem to recall last year one of the copies was in the glass cabinet at the top of the stairs in the Visitor Centre.
I am tracing Palladio's Influence on Jefferson's Architecture.

Thanks Chris Law RIBA


When members of the public see us excavating around the main house, they often ask whether we are affiliated with the University of Virginia. They are surprised when we tell them that we are part of a permanent research department at Monticello. Monticello has a handful of departments conducting scholarly research. What an excellent organization!

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