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, Inc.

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

1787 February 21. (Jefferson to Barradelle). "C’est vrai que j’avois trouv√© votre Microscope superieure √† toutes celles que j’avois vue. Mais avant de la voir, j’en avois achet√© une √† Londres, moins parfaite vraiment, mais qui suffit aux petites experiences d’une personne qui ne s’y est jamais beaucoup occup√©, et qui actuellement, et pour des ann√©es √† venir, ne pourra s’y occuper du tout. Ainsi, vous voyez Monsieur, que quoique votre instrument soit parfait dans son genre, ce ne pourroit m’etre actuellement d’aucune utilit√©: et l’acquisition entraineroit une sacrifice qui me seroit incommode dans ce moment."5

1788 October 2. (Jefferson to Thomas Payne, London bookseller). "When I name a particular edition of a book, send me that edition and no other. ... Adams’s essays on the microscope. 4to."6

1790 October 29. "Pd. Turner for mending microscope 6/."7

1800 September. (Jefferson's "Course of Reading" for Joseph C. Cabell). "Adams on the Microscope. 8vo."8

1805 May 21. (Jefferson to Benjamin Smith Barton). "Th: Jefferson presents his friendly salutations to Doctr. Barton: when sending him the dried specimens of plants from mr Dunbar he omitted to send some which he says are some of the animalculae, inhabitants of the moss. Th: J. having no microscope here has been unable to see them..."9

1808 June 4. (Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes). "In revising my philosophical apparatus I find I have some articles to spare which will be of use to Francis when he comes to that part of his education ... a Solar microscope in brass, with Wilson’s pocket apparatus by Dollond."10

[1809 ca. October 4]. (Jefferson’s List of Recommended Books). "Baker on the microscope. 8vo."11

1815 October 21. (Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin). "I thank you for your attention to the Microscope. it was well repaired and safely recieved."12

1824 April 26. (Jefferson’s Proposed List of Instruments for the Classes of Natural History & Mathematics at the University of Virginia). "Microscope, double, very powerful, not fitted as solar."13

Further Sources

  • University of Cambridge. Whipple Museum of the History of Science. "Microscopes." Accessed 2/6/20.


Login or register to participate in our online community.