The Private Jefferson

The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Front cover of The Private Jefferson, paperback Essays by Henry Adams, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrea Wulf

Preface by Dennis A. Fiori

One of U.S. history’s most eminent figures, Thomas Jefferson is as elusive as he is revered. The Private Jefferson opens a window onto the third president’s inner life by digging into the single largest cache of Thomas Jefferson’s private papers, held—to the surprise of many—at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Essays by Peter S. Onuf (“The State of the World: Thomas Jefferson’s Political Vision”), Andrea Wulf (“Revolutionary Gardens: Jefferson, Politics, and Plants”), and Henry Adams (“The Architectural Jefferson: The Draftsman and His Ideals”) underscore aspects of Jefferson’s character—his unusual creativity and less frequently studied perspectives on the world—rather than retelling the well-known achievements of his political career. The qualities that come to the forefront are, instead, the principles, passions, and faith that suffused his actions as a statesman, including his love of the natural world, and his life-long effort to find a balance between his role on an international stage and his need for a domestic retreat, a reverie for study and experimentation.

            Generously illustrated with full color reproductions of architectural drawings, letters, and other manuscripts, The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society is published as a companion to the MHS exhibition The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Both exhibition and book celebrate the Society’s 225th year.

224 pages, 137 color illustrations
$35 Paperback (2016)  ISBN: 978-1-936520-09-1
$60 Hardcover (2016)  ISBN: 978-1-936520-08-4
Distributed by the University of Virginia Press

Order from Amazon.

Upcoming Events

Author Talk

The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building ...

26Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

    In life and in death, slaves were commodities. Their monetary value was assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The ...

Brown Bag

Maps, Copies, and Rights: Boundaries of Ownership in Early American Piracy

28Jun 12:00PM 2017

The origins and development of copyright practices in the eighteenth century were at once a local, national, and imperial project. While literary property itself was ...

Author Talk

The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

28Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

      Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696–1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

The final week of June is a fairly quiet one here at the Society. Here is what's coming up: - Monday, 26 June, 6:00PM : The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to ...

A Swing through Lynn Woods around 1910

The Lynn Woods Reservation is a fun place to spend some time among trees and even take in views of the Boston skyline. It is also notable for various features and structures, such as Stone Tower, ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?