Today At Monticello

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Today’s Hours

Taking Jefferson's name in vain (again)

Sometimes it seems an uphill battle, disabusing people of the notion that Jefferson is the source of every smart, catchy thing ever said.  I was reassured this week to find out that I'm not alone in my efforts.  An intrepid blogger became suspicious of a supposed Jefferson quote that has risen to the surface during the recent financial upheaval, and decided to do some hard-core investigation.  By sheer chance, I had recently run this particular non-quotation down

Jefferson's Debt

Well, "It's the economy, stupid" is back in this election year in a big way!  So, I have to bring up Jefferson's debt in the course of making us feel a little better.  He loved to spend the money and he made some unwise decisions, and his family paid a big price for it.

Reading is Fundamental

Reading a recent  New York Times article on the future of reading and video games was interesting.  Many people are struggling with the questions of how video games affect reading and how games are trying to help non-readers read more in their lives.  Jefferson, of course, did not have to face the choices that modern young people do today, but his message of reading and education came to mind as I read the article.  He said to John Adams that he has "...a canine appetite for reading."  He certa

From Paper to Web

Part of my work for the Jefferson Encyclopedia is to canvass the Information Files here at the library.  I look for research reports and documentary references that Monticello researchers have done over the years.  Many people never knew that there was information out there on a particular topic.  What is marvelous is that the information finally gets uncovered and, in many cases, for the first time in years.  Take for example a recent entry on Denmark.  Not a popular topic to be sure, but the

Mistaken Identity

A patron asked us about a very unusual quotation the other day: apparently someone, sometime said that Thomas Jefferson was "...a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father..."; this was supposedly a comment made by Jefferson's political opponents in the election of 1800. But who actually said this? One of my neighbors in grad school once gushed that librarians were "like wolverines, man! I mean, you ask them a question and they just WON'T LET GO until they answer it!" He wasn't kidding.

Bathhouses for the Jefferson Pools to be restored at the Homestead Resort

It was announced this week that the Homestead Resort in Bath County intends to restore the historic bathhouses that surround their famed mineral pools (now called the Jefferson Pools).  Thomas Jefferson is just one of the thousands of Virginians, aristocratic and ordinary, who have sought the comforts of the waters over the course of two and a half centuries. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson wrote of the "Warm spring" that was to become the resort:

Desalination of Sea Water

Picking up a recent Economist magazine, an article discusses how desalination of the oceans for usable water is becoming less expensive these days. San Diego has built a large plant, as have a few Australian cities. What does this have to do with Jefferson? It is science related, thus there's a good chance there is a connection. Jefferson worked on Jacob Isaac’s patent on a desalination process back in the early 1790s. Take a look at the entry in our Jefferson Encyclopedia for

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

A question from a patron prompted me to take another look at the quotation, "dissent is the highest form of patriotism."  This is probably one of the most frequent quotation questions for us, but I haven't taken a fresh look at it for several years.  Google Books has revolutionized the way I search for TJ quotations (which usually turn out to be non-TJ quotations, more often than not), and in this case it helped us pinpoint earlier origins for this quotation.  The general gist is that we can now trace this quotation back to at least the Vietnam era, when it seems to have been