Massachusetts Historical Society
Thomas Jefferson Papers: an electronic archive

From the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Historical Society owns a remarkable document in Thomas Jefferson's own handwriting, the text of his only full-length book, Notes on the State of Virginia. When Jefferson was in Paris in 1785 representing the United States as a diplomat, he paid to have 200 copies of Notes printed for private distribution. Prior to publication, Jefferson reworked an earlier version of his manuscript by using sealing wax to attach corrections and changes written on small additional pieces of paper to full handwritten pages. He also expanded the text by inserting additional full pages. These changes show the evolution of Jefferson's ideas on a number of topics, and the supplemental information he gathered as he wrote. This website allows the reader to interact directly with Jefferson's complex manuscript by reading the original manuscript and by following all the changes that he made to the text before it was first published—including the opportunity to see passages written by Jefferson that have been hidden by attachments for more than two centuries.

Tutorial:

follow the tutorial describing the web presentation of the manuscript pages

Make-Your-Own Page 5

of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia [manuscript] download pdf

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Funding from the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation supported this project.