The Jefferson Library is a gateway to information on Thomas Jefferson’s life, times, and legacy. To this end, the library collects comprehensively, including books, journal and newspaper articles, ephemera, unpublished research, websites, microforms, audio-visuals, photographs, and digital full-text files. In addition to all materials about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello, we acquire materials on colonial and early federal periods, revolutionary America and Atlantic history, worldwide religions and philosophy, and European arts and culture. Topics of particular interest include wine and cuisine, slavery and natural rights, science and exploration, the University of Virginia, Jefferson descendants, and the legacy of Jefferson's actions and ideas.
Particular collection strengths lie in our unrivaled collections in the following areas:
- The Ron Laycock Collection of Lewis and Clark Literature, courtesy of a gift from Mr. Ron Laycock. This collection includes materials for adults as well as children and young adults, and everything from scholarly articles to bestselling works of fiction and nonfiction to pop-up books, programs, maps, and newspapers.
- The Filippo Mazzei Archive, courtesy of Sister Margherita Marchione, MPF. This collection includes comprehensive manuscript facsimiles of this Italian Founding Father; also included are the expansive research files of Sister Margherita. Hundreds of publications are included uncatalogued by other libraries.
- The Howard C. Rice Collection on 18th-century France and on Americans who lived there includes over 450 books, 60 binders of photographs and ephemera, and research notes and correspondence.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Jefferson Library encourage our friends and donors to consider making contributions of published and unpublished materials. Please review our gift and donation policies if you wish to consider a gift in kind. Financial donations are also welcomed and are put to good use in extending and enhancing the information resources made available by the Library.
The Jefferson Library has over 15,000 titles, and another 5,000 in Thomas Jefferson Foundation departmental libraries. These libraries include Archaeology, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, Curatorial, Guides, Education, Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, and Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Kenwood. We also provide access to over 80,000 e-book titles through subscription databases.
Serials – Journals and Newspapers
The Library maintains about two dozen current subscriptions and memberships. The TJ Portal also provides listings and links magazines, newsletters, and scholarly journals published online by historical and educational agencies.
The Articles File maintained in Special Collections includes 4,500 individual journal and magazine articles, book chapters, and theme issues.
The Newspaper Clippings File contains approximately 9,000 articles published from 1877 to the present. These are arranged in topic categories each of which is cataloged in the TJ Portal.
Modern serial titles with complete back files, and modern and historical newspapers are provided in several of our subscription databases.
The library's collection of about 4,000 reels of microfilm and 3,000 microfiche cards contains the papers of Thomas Jefferson from the Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, University of Virginia, Henry E. Huntington Library, Missouri Historical Society, New York Historical Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Colonial Williamsburg, and the American Philosophical Society. Also available are the Rice Papers, several historic newspaper runs, American city directories (1790 – 1860), and 18th century French art sources.
Collection level records for all micro-format materials are included in the Thomas Jefferson Portal.
Audio and Video Collection
The Jefferson Library has over one thousand videos, DVDs, audio CDs and cassettes. These include both commercially-produced documentaries in the circulating collection and Foundation-produced recordings of events, lectures, and interviews in the archives.
- Information File contains 2,500 folders of unpublished and published information on topics related to Jefferson, organized by Subjects, People, and Places.
- Thomas Jefferson and the Arts has 250 files on works of art owned by Jefferson and works of art depicting Jefferson.
- Manuscript Facsimile Files with nearly two hundred folders containing reproductions of Jefferson-era manuscripts arranged topically.
- Research Reports collection consists of 3,000 unpublished essays compiled by Foundation staff, interns, and other researchers. These deal with Jefferson, Monticello, and period history. Some unique items include Archaeology Reports, The Joinery at Jefferson's Monticello, Jefferson's Journey to Washington, November 1800, and Chronologies of the Whereabouts of Martha Jefferson, 1784-1809, Mary Jefferson, 1784-1809, Thomas Jefferson, 1767-1826.
- Publications of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation includes 600 items produced by the Foundation since its incorporation in 1923
All items in these collections are included in the Thomas Jefferson Portal.
There are over 1900 books in our Special Collections dealing with Jefferson, his writings, his contemporaries, and history of his era.
A few noteworthy titles include:
- Jefferson's A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1810, 2nd ed.), plus 10 subsequent editions
- Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (including map), 1787, plus 15 subsequent editions/printings
- Jefferson’s Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: Extracted Textually from the Gospels (1902, 1st ed.) plus 20 subsequent editions/printings
- Encyclopedia Britannica (1771, 1st edition)
Some titles owned by Thomas Jefferson are on display in the Library (Book Room) at Monticello.
- Monticello Architectural Image Collection consists of approximately 3000 photocopies, photographs, and drawings of Monticello's interior, exterior, and grounds, dating from Jefferson's time through the present. View the finding aid here.
- Photographs: approximately 45,000 slides and photographic prints of special events, historic research venues, sites known to Jefferson, etc.
- Historic Picture Postcards collection contains approximately 2,400 individual views of Monticello exterior and interior, dependencies, gardens and grounds, related sites—including places in Europe visited by Jefferson.
The Library holds nine papers and manuscripts collections including the following record groups:
- Noble E. Cunningham Papers, with his working research files for his many Thomas Jefferson publications
- Eugene Foster, M.D. Papers, covering his project to conduct DNA analysis of Thomas Jefferson’s descendants
- Milton L. Grigg Papers, an architect who worked on the early restoration of Monticello
- Monticello Association Archives, with the records of the group of Jefferson descendants incorporated in 1913
Finding aids for these collections are included in the archival database of Thomas Jefferson Foundation Archives – see Archives, below.
Note: The Jefferson Library is not a repository for Thomas Jefferson's original papers. These documents are held at various institutions, including the Library of Congress, University of Virginia, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. See our Jefferson Manuscript Collections page for more details.
The Jefferson Library contains the historical record of the educational and scholarly activities of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation; in addition, some business records are also preserved. All record groups, as they are processed, are added to the Foundation Archives database. Collections that have restricted access are so noted; special permission to use these materials may be requested by submission in writing to the President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Otherwise, all archival materials are open and available to users upon completion of requisite forms.
Currently, as of September 9, 2014, 88 online resources are made available to all researchers at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation; a small percentage are available to all Internet users but the preponderance are site-licensed with restricted access. The list and links to individual titles are available on the Research Databases page.
The library occasionally mounts special exhibits in our lobby area. Our current exhibit (running through spring 2017) is Jefferson in Our Times, an examination of the portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in works of fiction. Past exhibits have included:
- Slavery at Monticello: A Chronological Selection of Literature (January 19, 2012 - April 15, 2012) (click for exhibition checklist PDF)
- Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks: Virginia Planter and Doctoress, 1752-1837 (May 3-November 12, 2009)
- Thomas Jefferson and the Good Book (Spring 2007)
- Thomas Jefferson and the Origins of American Political Parties (September 9, 2003-January 31, 2004) (click for exhibition checklist PDF)