The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Interact with Jefferson in new "Notes" Site

On the eve of Thomas Jefferson's 267th birthday, we at MHS are delighted to annouce a new web presentation of the manuscript copy of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, his only full-length book. Read more about the manuscript here.

By way of introduction to the new site: "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."

Our digital projects team has really worked some pretty amazing magic with this presentation - you can literally lift attachments off the page and see what Jefferson wrote underneath - or flip up additions and check out what's on the back. It's a little complicated at first, so I encourage you to use the Tutorial before you begin. It helps, believe me! Once you've mastered the navigation, you can start browsing at page 1, select your chapter, choose a selected passage, or search.

Also check out the list of sources for further reading, and some additional documents compiled by Jefferson during the composition of this work (including a table of Virginia birds).



permalink | Published: Monday, 12 April, 2010, 11:32 AM


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