Virtual tour of this room

Order: Tuscan

Source: Palladio  

Color: Green wallpaper and coordinating floral border paper based on historical evidence

Current wallpaper was derived from samples found in a grammar book used at Monticello in the early 19th century.

Purpose of Room: Study for reading, writing, correspondence, and scientific observation  

Unusual architectural features: Part of a "suite" of Jefferson's private rooms, along with the Book Room, later becoming the South square sitting roomLibraryGreenhouse, and Bed Chamber; adjoins Jefferson's Bed Chamber via a passage and an alcove bed opening onto two rooms, but with a wallpapered folding screen affixed to the Cabinet side; plan based on an octagon, a favored architectural shape for Jefferson

Furnishings of note: Reading and writing arrangement, which included a revolving chair, a table with a revolving top, a revolving stand on a tripod base, and a polygraph copying machine; sofa used for reading and napping

Objects on Display in this Room

Primary Source References

[1800 November 25]. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "[A catalog of books] is lying I believe either on the table in my book room, or under the window by the red couch in the Cabinet."[1]

1801 October 8. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "[F]rom an actual survey of the plantation I occupy there (which you will see in one of the desk drawers in my study) ...."[2]

1801 December 4. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "[I]t is in one of the volumes ... which you will find in the press on the right side of the cherry sash door in my cabinet."[3]

1806 January 31. (Jefferson to James Ogilvie). "[T]he arrangement begins behind the partition door leading out of the Book room into the Cabinet, & proceeds from left to right round the room; then entering the Cabinet it begins at the Eastern angle, & goes round that room."[4]

1808 October 4. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "[B]ut I think it must be in one of the cartoons in the Cabinet window near which I usually sit to write, that is to say near the red turning chair."[5]

1809 August. (Margaret Bayard Smith). "His cabinet and chamber contained every convenience and comfort, but were plain. His bed is built in the wall which divides his chamber and cabinet."[6]

1819 July 28. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "[I]n my Cabinet, & in the window on the right of my writing table you will see 4. or 5. cartoons of papers. the 2d & 3d of these contain a compleat set of alphabeted papers ...."[7]

Further Sources

Monticello Revolving BookstandAvailable in Our Online Shop: Reproduction Revolving Bookstand

Monticello in Measured DrawingsAvailable in Our Online Shop: Monticello in Measured Drawings


  1. ^ PTJ, 32:259. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  2. ^ PTJ, 35:414. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  3. ^ PTJ, 36:20. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  5. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  6. ^ Gaillard S. Hunt, ed., The First Forty Years of Washington Society: Portrayed by the Family Letters of Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith (Margaret Bayard) from the Collection of Her Grandson, J. Henley Smith (New York: Scribner, 1906), 72.
  7. ^ PTJ:RS, 14:574. Transcription available at Founders Online.