Thomas Jefferson Papers

The Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society is the largest collection of private papers kept by the third president of the United States (the Library of Congress holds the majority of Jefferson's public papers). In 1898 Jefferson's great-grandson, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge (1831-1920) of Boston, presented a large number of Jefferson papers to the MHS. This material included correspondence (incoming correspondence and Jefferson's retained copies of outgoing correspondence, a total of about 8,000 letters), manuscript volumes including his Garden and Farm Books--the records of Monticello and his other properties--almanacs, accounts, law treatises, and the manuscript volume listing the books in Jefferson's personal library. Later Jefferson and Coolidge descendants added about 400 of Jefferson's architectural drawings and sketches to the collection. The MHS also holds a manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence written by Jefferson, an 1893 gift from Mr. and Mrs. Arthur C. Washburn.

For more information about the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, see the collection guide. The entire manuscript collection is available on microfilm.

Jefferson Papers Online

Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive presents digital images and searchable transcriptions of a selection of Jefferson's personal papers, including his Farm and Garden Books, the manuscript of Notes on the State of Virginia, his only full-length published work, and his handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence.  The website also features digital images of Jefferson's architectural drawings and sketches of two of his library catalogs.   

Upcoming Events

Early American History Seminar

Panel: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Friends

2May 5:15PM 2017

Gould’s essay, “Hawthorne and the State of War,” reads the under-studied travel memoir Our Old Home (1863) as a meditation on the important—and, ...

Brown Bag

Politics of Civil War Governance: A Conversation about Lincoln and his Loyal Governors during the ...

3May 12:00PM 2017

Engle will discuss his most recent book, Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors (2016) and how it led to his current project, a ...

Cooking Boston

Cooking Boston: Where to Go

3May 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

Cooking Boston: Where to Go This series of programs explores the culinary history of Boston and the impact the city has had on the American diet. In the first half of ...

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“Legible only to myself”: John Quincy Adams’s Shorthand

A line in John Quincy Adams’s 1788 diary is the earliest example of his use of English poet John Byrom’s shorthand system. The system replaces words with symbols to make writing faster and ...

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