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Collection Overview

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Thomas Jefferson Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-2


Consists of two manuscripts and assorted correspondence by the architect, scientist, author, and third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of correspondence by Jefferson concerning both personal and governmental affairs. The majority of the correspondence is original, but there are a few duplicates and transcriptions of his letters. Also included are two manuscripts: one, complete with diagrams, outlines the proper procedure for the making of nails; and the second is a contemporary copy a speech Jefferson delivered to three Indian tribes and others on 21 December 1808. In addition, there is a small selection of miscellanea, including a naval document, dated 28 December 1805 and countersigned by Secretary of State James Madison, certifying that the merchant vessel Sophrona is unarmed and requesting that she be allowed to pass freely.

The following standard abbreviations, or their variations, are used to identify materials in this collection: ALS = autograph letter signed, TLS = typed letter signed, AN = autograph note, AMs = autograph manuscript, TMs = typed manuscript, and DS = document signed.

Collection Creator Biography:


Born April 13, 1743, Thomas Jefferson was the United States' third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson grew up in Virginia and attended the College of William and Mary, after which he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1767. In 1779, Jefferson became the governor of Virginia, after which he took a five year residence in France from 1784 to 1789. During George Washington's presidency, Jefferson served as secretary of state, and it was during this time that he developed his rivalry with Alexander Hamilton. In 1800, Jefferson became the third president of the United States. As president, on of his most significant acts was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Though reelected, Jefferson's second term was somewhat troubled and he gradually lost political popularity. In his retirement, Jefferson devoted himself to his Virginia house, Monticello, and the establishment of the University of Virginia. He died on July 4, 1826.

Collection History


Letter to John Barnes bequethed by Mrs. Gibbes. Copy of Thomas Jefferson's letter is a gift of Emily Driscoll.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Ran Tao in 2003. Finding aid written by Ran Tao in 2003.

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

In 2022, restrictions on materials where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Thomas Jefferson Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-2

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The following sources were consulted during preparation of biographical note: American National Biography.

Subject Terms:
Merchant ships -- United States -- 19th century.
Nail craft -- United States -- 19th century.
Presidents -- United States -- 19th century.
Genre Terms:
Ship's papers.
Sephrona (Merchant Ship)