Suggested Reading List

This page contains a general list of suggested reading material pertaining to Thomas Jefferson and his world, organized by topic. Some of these books may be purchased online through our Museum Shop. Some may be out of print, but can be obtained through your local library or used bookseller. Titles are linked to WorldCat, where you can search for copies in libraries near you.

For reading suggestions for children, please see the bibliography on the Monticello Classroom site. For more specialized references on specific topics, see "Further Sources" listed in individual articles in the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.

Art and Music
Books and Libraries


Food and Drink
Gardening and Horticulture
Politics and Law
Science and Exploration
Thomas Jefferson's Writings





  • Beiswanger, William L. Monticello in Measured Drawings. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1998.  Text by Monticello's Robert H. Smith Director of Restoration, accompanied by reproductions of the measured drawings of Monticello done by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
  • McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder. New York: Holt, 1988. A useful narrative of the construction of Monticello.

Other Buildings

Art and Music


Books and Libraries



  • Betts, Edwin M., and James Bear, Jr., eds. The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1966. Reprinted Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1986.  Extensive (but not exhaustive) collection of transcribed letters between Thomas Jefferson, his children, grandchildren, and occasionally other relatives.
  • Kern, Susan.  The Jeffersons at Shadwell.  New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010.  362 pp. 
  • Langhorne, Elizabeth. Monticello, a Family Story. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1987.  289 pp.
  • Mayo, Bernard, ed. Thomas Jefferson and his Unknown Brother. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1981.  Brief introductory text and collected letters between Thomas Jefferson and his younger brother Randolph.
  • Merrill, Boynton, Jr. Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1987 (2nd ed.).  A study of the two sons of Thomas Jefferson's sister Lucy Jefferson Lewis, and their involvement in a murder case in Kentucky in 1811-1812.  Rich source of information on the extended Lewis-Jefferson family.
  • Randall, Henry S. The Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1857. This is one of the first major biographies of Thomas Jefferson, for which the author interviewed members of Jefferson's family. Modern reprints are available.
  • Randolph, Sarah N. The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Harper, 1871; reprinted multiple times.  Also available online.  This book by Thomas Jefferson's great-granddaughter relates family stories about Thomas Jefferson and life at Monticello.
  • Shackelford, George Green, ed. Collected Papers to Commemorate Fifty Years of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville: Monticello Association, 1965. 2 vols.  These volumes contain biographical essays on many of Jefferson's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, along with genealogical information.

Food and Drink

Gardening and Horticulture

Garden History


See also Gardening and Horticulture

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Politics and Law

  • Banning, Lance. Jefferson and Madison: Three Conversations From the Founding. 1995.
  • ---. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology. 1978.
  • Caldwell, Lynton K. The Administrative Theories of Hamilton and Jefferson. 1987.
  • Christman, Margaret C.S. The Spirit of Party: Hamilton and Jefferson at Odds. 1992.
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Process of Government Under Jefferson. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978.
  • Dewey, Frank L. Thomas Jefferson, Lawyer. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1986.  This book has a helpful appendix listing all of the manuscript sources for Jefferson's legal practice.
  • Dumbauld, Edward. Thomas Jefferson and the Law.  Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.
  • Dunn, Susan. Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
  • Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. 2000.
  • Ellis, Joseph J. What Did the Declaration Declare? 1999
  • Kaminski, John P. Thomas Jefferson: Philosopher and Politician. 2005.
  • Levy, Leonard W. Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side. 1989.
  • McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. 1976.
  • Matthews, Richard. The Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson. 1986.
  • Mayer, David N. The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson. 1994.
  • Morgan, Edmund S. The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. 1976. Reprint 2004.
  • Peterson, Merrill D. Adams and Jefferson: A Revolutionary Dialogue.
  • Schwartz, Bernard. Thomas Jefferson and Bolling v. Bolling: Law & the Legal Profession in Pre-Revolutionary America. 1997.
  • Sheehan, Bernard W. Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1973.
  • Sheldon, Garrett Ward. The Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. 1992.
  • Tucker, Robert W., and David C. Hendrickson. Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson. 1990.
  • Wood, Gordon S. The Creation of the American Republic. 1969.


Science and Exploration

  • Bedini, Silvio A. Thomas Jefferson and His Copying Machines. 1984.
  • Bedini, Silvio A. Thomas Jefferson: Statesman of Science. 1990.
  • Cerami, Charles A. Jefferson's Great Gamble: The Remarkable Story of Jefferson, Napoleon and the Men Behind the Louisiana Purchase. 2003.
  • Cohen, I. Bernard. Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and James Madison. 1995.
  • Cohen, I. Bernard, ed. Thomas Jefferson and the Sciences. 1980. Reprinted articles.
  • Greene, John C. American Science in the Age of Jefferson. 1984.
  • Jackson, Donald. Thomas Jefferson & the Stony Mountains: Exploring the West from Monticello. 1981.
  • Miller, Charles A. Jefferson and Nature. 1993.
  • Ronda, James P. Thomas Jefferson and the Changing West. 1997.
  • Thomson, Keith. A Passion for Nature. 2008.


Slavery and the Enslaved Community at Monticello

More General Works on Slavery and African-American History

Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson

  • Burton, Cynthia H. Jefferson Vindicated: Fallacies, Omissions, and Contradictions in the Hemings Genealogical Search. 2005.
  • Gordon-Reed, Annette. The Hemingses of Monticello. New York: Norton, 2008.
  • Gordon-Reed, Annette. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. 1997.
  • Lewis, Jan Ellen and Peter Onuf, eds. Sally Hemings & Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory & Civic Culture. 1999.
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Research Committee.  Report on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.  Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 2000.

Thomas Jefferson's Writings

  • Bear, James A., Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds. Jefferson's Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997. Two-volume set.
  • Betts, Edwin M., ed. Thomas Jefferson's Farm Book. 1953; rpt. 1976.
  • Betts, Edwin M., ed. Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book. 1944; rpt. 1985.
  • Betts, Edwin M., and James A. Bear, Jr., eds. Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson. 1966; rpt. 1985.
  • Boyd, Julian P. The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of the Text. 1999.
  • Boyd, Julian P., and others, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 1950 - present. 38 vols.
  • Cappon, Lester J., ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters. 1959; rpt. 1987.
  • Howell, Wilbur Samuel, ed. Jefferson's Parliamentary Writings. 1988.
  • Jefferson, Thomas. The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1790. 1914; reprint 2005.
  • Koch, Adrienne, and William Peden, eds. The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson. 1944; rpt. 1993.
  • Looney, J. Jefferson et al, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. 2004-present.  8 vols.
  • Peden, William, ed. Notes on the State of Virginia. 1954.
  • Peterson, Merrill D., ed. Thomas Jefferson: Writings. 1984.
  • Smith, James Morton. The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison 1776-1826. 1994.
  • Wilson, Douglas, ed. Jefferson's Literary Commonplace Book. 1989.


  • Adams, William Howard. The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson. 1997.
  • Dumbauld, Edward. Thomas Jefferson, American Tourist : Being an Account of His Journeys in the United States of America, England, France, Italy, the Low Countries, and Germany. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946 (reprinted 1976).
  • Maguire, Robert J., ed. The Tour to the Northern Lakes of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, May - June 1791. A facsimile edition of their travel journals. 1995.
  • Moore, Roy and Alma. Thomas Jefferson's Journey to the South of France. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1999.
  • Rice, Howard C. Thomas Jefferson's Paris. 1976.
  • Shackelford, George Green. Thomas Jefferson's Travels in Europe, 1784-1789. 1995.

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This page is always a work in progress (there are always new books coming along, after all), but it's a great place to start for the curious. All these titles have been suggested by Monticello staff - these are the books we use the most often and find the most useful for our work.

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