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About Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters

Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters is a companion to the printed volumes of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. The content presented as part of this collection includes Family Letters: full, searchable transcriptions of a rich body of correspondence to and between Jefferson’s immediate and extended family. These letters and related documents provide personal insights into aspects of Jefferson’s life seldom highlighted in his own writings, as well as vivid accounts of domestic, economic, political, and social life in early nineteenth-century Virginia. Falling in the years between 1751 and 1901, with a concentration on the years between 1809 and 1830, many of these documents have never been published before and the Retirement Series seeks to make them accessible to the public through this electronic edition.

Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters also contains an extensive, fully verified and cited, searchable collection of Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson, as well as thematic groupings, including documents describing early life at the University of Virginia and the experiences of Thomas Jefferson’s family during the American Civil War. The collection continues to grow, so please check back often.

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Copyright Information

Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters cannot grant permission to use or reproduce scans of letters, portraits, or any other media on our web site that is protected by copyright law. Please direct inquiries regarding the use or reproduction of materials to the appropriate copyright holder. Repository information is located in annotation notes at the foot of each document.

See the United States Copyright Office page for further information.

How to Cite

The location of the original text from which the transcription was made will appear in the annotation at the foot of the letter or document. Contact the repository noted to access the original. The following is an example of how to cite transcriptions of letters from Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters:

Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 23 March 1826 (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence). Transcript of manuscript, Retirement Series Digital Archive, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.,, 2019.

Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters is grateful for the support of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Statement of Textual Policy

Inclusion and Naming Conventions

Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters uses an inclusive definition of “family,” including not only Thomas Jefferson’s immediate family, but also the extended kin networks common among elite Virginians of the period. For example, Jefferson's longtime friend Elizabeth Trist was the grandmother of Nicholas P. Trist, who served as Jefferson’s secretary and also married his granddaughter Virginia Jefferson Randolph. Elizabeth Trist’s letters, as well as those of other members of the Trist family, are included in the electronic edition. This network will expand as the website grows.

Regardless of the date of the document, the married surnames of the correspondents will be included in the heading and title. These married surnames will appear within parenthesis until after the date of marriage has passed. For example, Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge is identified consistently as Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) until after May 1825 when her name appears without parenthesis. Honorifics such as “Jr.”, “Sr.”, and “III” have been omitted. Where full names are identical, a parenthetical delimiter (preferably life dates) is given following the name.

Editorial Procedures

The transcriptions contained in this electronic edition conform to the standards set by The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. Original spelling, capitalization, and punctuation is retained as written. Some so-called slips of the pen are corrected, but the original reading is recorded in a textual note. Gaps, doubtful readings of illegible or damaged text, and wording supplied from other versions or by editorial conjecture are explained in the source note or in numbered textual notes. Editorial conjectures of illegible or damaged text appear within square brackets, and where conjectures cannot safely be made, a gap is indicated by [. . .]. Datelines for letters are consistently printed at the head of the text, with a comment in the source note when they have been moved. Each author’s additions appear in green and deletions are in red and struck through. Address information, endorsements, and other notes, when they appear, are quoted or described in the source note rather than reproduced in the document proper. 

All documents and transcriptions undergo an intensive review process before they are posted to the website. Editorial annotation, including information about the type of text and the repository location of the original manuscript, appear within the source note at the foot of the document. When available, links to color scans of the original documents are provided.

Text Types and Repositories

Abbreviations for text types and repositories appear in notes at the end of each letter:

Text Types
Dft draft (usually a composition or rough draft; multiple drafts, when identifiable as such, are designated 2d Dft, etc.)
Dupl duplicate
MS manuscripts (arbitrarily applied to most documents other than letters)
PoC polygraph copy
PrC press copy
RC recipient's copy
SC stylograph copy
FC file copy (applied to all contemporary copies retained by the author or his/her agents)
Tr transcript (applied to all contemporary and later copies except file copies; period of transcription, unless clear by implication, will be given when known)


CSmH  Huntington Library, San Marino, CA  
DLC  Library of Congress, Washington, DC  
DNA  National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC  
MHi  Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA
Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, unless otherwise noted
MoSHi  Missouri History Museum (formerly Missouri Historical Society), St. Louis, MO  
NcD  Duke University, Durham, NC  
NcU  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC  
NHi  New-York Historical Society, New York City  
NjMoHP  Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, NJ  
NjP  Princeton University, Princeton, NJ  
NN  New York Public Library, New York City  
NNPM  Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City  
PHi  Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA  
PPAmP  American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA  
PPCP  College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA  
THi  Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville, TN  
ViCMRL  Thomas Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., Charlottesville, VA  
Vi  Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA  
ViHi  Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA  
ViU  University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA  
ViW  College of William and Mary Library, Williamsburg, VA  



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