The only book written by Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia is a reply to questions posed by French diplomat François Barbé-Marbois. It is a tour d'horizon of Virginia's natural resources, geography, colonial history, and a wide-ranging discourse on Jefferson's, thoughts, hopes, fears and conflicted views on government, religion, slavery, race, Native Americans, and the future of the new nation he helped to create.

Scroll down to learn more about how Jefferson came to write Notes and look at content by "Query." 


At an unknown date, illustrations and a copy of the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia were inserted into Thomas Jefferson's copy of the 1787 London edition of his Notes (Jefferson may have inserted these himself). Engraved versions of these documents were incorporated in the 1853 edition of Notes, printed in Richmond by Jefferson's grandson and executor, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The originals are held by the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. For a history of the publication of the Notes, see the entry at the Library of Virginia.


An Eye-Draught of the Mammoth Cave, in Warren County, Kentucky

Plan of Madison and Amen’s Caverns

A Sketch of Several Forts by the Scioto River

Fry-Jefferson Map


Jefferson's Original Manuscript

See Jefferson's original, handwritten manuscript, including edited draft content that reveals insights into Jefferson's writing process. Available courtesy of the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society.