This guide is designed to provide an overview of the basic sources on Thomas Jefferson.
Other Jefferson Documents (Account Books, Declaration of Independence, etc.)
The original manuscripts of Thomas Jefferson's papers are scattered among more than 900 different repositories. The largest collections reside at the Library of Congress, the University of Virginia, and Massachusetts Historical Society.For more information about the largest of these collections, including links to digital and microfilm versions, see our page on Jefferson manuscript collections.
There are several major published editions of Jefferson's papers:
- Washington, H. A. (ed.). The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853-54. 9 vols.
- Ford, Paul Leicester (ed.). The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. New York, London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1892-99. 10 vols.
- Lipscomb, Andrew A. (ed.). The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington, D.C.: Issued under the auspices of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1905.
- Boyd, Julian (ed.). The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-, and Looney, J. Jefferson (ed.). The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004-.
For a more thorough overview of the published editions of Jefferson's papers, see our page on editions of Jefferson's writings. The Washington, Ford, and Lipscomb-Bergh editions, as well as most volumes of the Princeton edition are collectively searchable in the Jefferson Library's Thomas Jefferson: Papers collection in the Hathi Trust Digital Library. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series are considered the definitive editions of Jefferson's papers, and are by far the most comprehensive. Both are now available online (for a fee) through the University of Virginia Press's Rotunda imprint; a free version (formatted slightly differently) is available through the National Archives' Founders Online project. Indexes for volumes 27-37 and Retirement Series volumes 1-7 are also freely available online.
The following Jefferson documents have also been published, many of them multiple times; the editions considered most definitive are listed here.
Account Books: 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. 2 vols. The Memorandum Books also contain other information such as wine lists and some weather records. The original manuscripts of Jefferson's account books are in the Jefferson Papers collections at the University of Virginia, Massachusetts Historical Society, Library of Congress, Huntington Library, and New York Public Library. The transcriptions have now been made available in Founders Online (free), and in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition (fee-based).
Anas: The Anas, referring to a series of memoranda that Jefferson kept during the 1790s, have historically been treated as a cohesive group of documents and published together, most notably in Franklin B. Sawvel, (ed.), The Complete Anas of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Round Table Press, 1903). The Anas were also published in the Washington, Ford and Lipscomb-Bergh editions of Jefferson's writings (see above). The Princeton Papers of Thomas Jefferson are publishing the Anas documents individually, in chronological order with Jefferson's correspondence. The first of these documents appears in volume 22, along with an editorial note explaining Princeton's treatment of the Anas.
Architectural Drawings: Fiske Kimball's Thomas Jefferson, Architect (Boston: Riverside Press, 1916; rep. Da Capo, 1968) contains facsimile images of the drawings at Massachusetts Historical Society, which comprise approximately half of the extant drawings. Frederick Doveton Nichols's Thomas Jefferson's Architectural Drawings (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1961) provides a listing of all known drawings (approximately 500).
Autobiography: Jefferson's Autobiography has been published in the Washington, Ford and Lipscomb-Bergh editions; the Ford transcription has also been published as a stand-alone volume by the University of Pennsylvania Press, with a new introduction by Michael Zuckerman. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series will also be publishing Jefferson's Autobiography in a future volume. Click here to search for other editions of Jefferson's Autobiography in the Thomas Jefferson Portal.
The "Jefferson Bible": The definitive scholarly edition of Jefferson's two Bible compilations is Adams, Dickinson W., ed. Jefferson's Extracts From the Gospels: "The Philosophy of Jesus" and "The Life and Morals of Jesus." Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983. Find a copy in a library near you; or, search for other editions of the "Jefferson Bible" and books and articles about it in the Thomas Jefferson Portal. See also our Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia articles on the two compilations: "The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth" and "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth."
Declaration of Independence: Boyd, Julian (ed.). The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-. Volume 1, pp. 413-433 treats the Declaration comprehensively, including an editorial note and multiple drafts and amended versions of the text. These editorial notes and document transcriptions may also be viewed in Founders Online. There are many other excellent published treatments of the Declaration as well, including John Hazelton's Declaration of Independence: Its History (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1906), and Julian Boyd's The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of the Text as Shown in Facsimiles of Various Drafts by its Author, Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1945); click here to search for other sources on the Declaration in the Thomas Jefferson Portal.
Farm Book: Betts, Edwin Morris, ed. Thomas Jefferson's Farm Book: With Commentary and Relevant Extracts From Other Writings. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1999. View the manuscript online on the Massachusetts Historical Society website; or, find a copy in a library near you.
Garden Book: Betts, Edwin Morris, ed. Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book, 1766-1824, With Relevant Extracts From His Other Writings. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1999. View the manuscript online on the Massachusetts Historical Society website; or, find a copy in a library near you.
Legal Commonplace Book: Jefferson, Thomas. Jefferson's Legal Commonplace Book. Edited by David Thomas Konig, Michael P. Zuckert, Les Harris, and W. Bland Whitley. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Second Series. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019. Find in a library near you.
Literary Commonplace Book: Wilson, Douglas L., ed. Jefferson's Literary Commonplace Book. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, c1989. Find in a library near you.
Notes on the State of Virginia: William Peden, ed., Notes on the State of Virginia. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1954. Find in a library near you; or click here to search the Thomas Jefferson Portal for other editions of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.
Parliamentary Manual: Howell, Wilbur Samuel, ed. Jefferson's Parliamentary Writings: "Parliamentary Pocket-Book" and A Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, c1988. Click here to search for other editions of Jefferson's Parliamentary Manual in the Thomas Jefferson Portal.
Jefferson owned thousands of books throughout his lifetime, and the various incarnations of his library are documented in a number of different lists. For information on Jefferson's libraries, visit the website of our Thomas Jefferson's Libraries Project.
Our online catalog, the Thomas Jefferson Portal, is the most comprehensive source available for bibliographic records representing published and unpublished material on Thomas Jefferson and his world. For specific reading suggestions by topic, please see our Suggested Reading List.
There is also a wealth of material on hundreds of topics, written by Monticello staff, in our online Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.