Support Our Work!

In honor of Thomas Jefferson’s 281st birthday, will you help us preserve and protect Monticello for generations to come?


At Monticello's laundry, or "wash house," enslaved women, such as  Ursula Granger, laundered clothing as well as bed and table linens from Thomas Jefferson's household. Archaeological evidence indicates that a log wash house was built on Mulberry Row circa 1790 and operated at this location until about 1808, when a new wash house was opened in the south wing.Anchor

Primary Source References

Undated. (Memoirs of Isaac Granger Jefferson). "She [Ursula Granger, Isaac Granger Jefferson's mother] was pastry-cook & washerwoman: Stayed in the laundry. ... Isaac's mother had seven dollars a month for lifetime for washing, ironing, & making pastry."[1]

1777 September 28. (Clothing inventory). "... 8 silk gowns 6 washing ditto old and 2 new to make up ...."[2]

ca. 1790 November 7. (Memorandum for Nicholas Lewis). "A wash house 16. feet square to be built and placed where I pointed out to George."[3]

1796. (Jefferson plat of Mulberry Row). "A wash house, 16 1/2 f. square of wood, the chimney also wood, the floor earth, from n. it is 38f. to a servant's house ...."[4]

1798 January 30. (Thomas Mann Randolph to Jefferson). "The gun exciting suspicion I had him [York] searched; one pair & an odd stocking marked T.I. were upon him ... which might all have been obtained elsewhere than in your room for my people remembered some of your stocki[ngs ha]ving been stolen from the wash house ...."[5]

1802 June 16. (William Lovering to Jefferson). "Mr. Briesler the late Presidant’s Steward, some time in October 1800 desired I would get a Mangle made for Callendering of Linen ....  the Scetch of the apparatus is Anexed. It saves Labor and Tireing and makes Linen look considerable Better than Ironing, and is made Use of in General by Large Family’s in Europe. If the Servants are unaquainted in Useing it, I Can instruct them, if you think proper to have it."[6]

1802 June 18. (Jefferson to Lovering). "... those funds are all but exhausted, and thinks it probable mr Claxton can contract no new engagement on them."[7]

1807 December 15. (Jefferson to John Perry). "I am willing you should go on with the roof of the S.E. offices doing it as you propose to the far end of the Smoke house compleatly first. then, while you are about the residue, the families in it can live in the Wash house & kitchen, till their own apartments are done again."[8]

1808 February 23. (Jefferson to Hugh Chisholm). "In every other respect it [South pavilion] is to be finished on the model of the North pavilion, except that the fireplace below is to be large enough for a wash house, say 4 f. 6. I. wide."[9]

1808 October 17. (Jefferson to Edmund Bacon). "I expect mr Madox is now about the stable, & the house laid off where an old loghouse stands, & of course that he draws off some of your force."[10]


  1. ^ Isaac Jefferson, Memoirs of a Monticello Slave, ed. Rayford W. Logan (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1951), 111832. See also Bear, Jefferson at Monticello, 3, 8, 20.
  2. ^ [Inventory of "Patsy's" clothing], Martha Jefferson's Household AccountsThomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.
  3. ^ PTJ, 18:29. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ Betts, Farm Book, 6.
  5. ^ PTJ, 30:68-69. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  6. ^ PTJ, 37:610-11. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  7. ^ PTJ, 37:617. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  8. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  9. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  10. ^ Thomas Jefferson Papers, Huntington Library. Transcription available at Founders Online.