You are here


Monticello researchers have compiled selected references to microscopes in Thomas Jefferson's letters and accounts. A chronological list is provided below.

Solar Microscope. Thomas Jefferson Foundation


Primary Source References

1769 October 17. "Pd. Craig for mendg. microscope & perspect. glass 2/6."1

1786 March 21. "Pd. Dollond for ... solar microscope £5-16-6."2

1786 April 12. "Pd. Jones for a compound microscope £4-4."3

1786 April 15. "Pd Jones for botanical microscope 10/ cloth do 3/."4

1790 October 29. "Pd. Turner for mending microscope 6/."5

  • 1. MB, 1:151. This is most likely a spyglass or optique.
  • 2. MB, 1:614. This instrument projected images of small objects onto the wall, essentially using the reverse of the principles of the camera obscura, and thus could be used as a drawing aid or to demonstrate the principles of optics. Jefferson gave this instrument to Francis Wayles Eppes in 1808.
  • 3. MB, 1:620.
  • 4. MB, 1:621. A cloth microscope may have been a simple pin-hole type of microscope made of cloth. The botanical microscope could well be the small instrument found at Monticello. On this London trip, Jefferson bought scioptric ball and condensing lenses to help concentrate light for a compound microscope. While in Europe, he also bought a concave mirror to help enlarge images.
  • 5. MB, 1:768.


Login or register to participate in our online community.