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

Upcoming Events

Seminar; African American History Seminar; Online Event

Revolutionary Weddings: Marriage in the Black Panther Party

21Jan 5:15PM 2021
This is an online program.

Revolutionary love and marriages in the Black Panther Party were powerful aspects of Black Power politics. This paper argues that Panthers viewed Black romantic love as ...

Seminar; Digital History Seminar; Online Event

Excavating Egyptology: The Emma B. Andrews Diary Project

26Jan 5:15PM 2021
This is an online program.

The Nile travel diaries of Mrs. Emma B. Andrews are an important yet underutilized resource for the so-called “Golden Age” of Egyptian archaeology in the late ...

Online Event; Author Talk

The Province of Affliction: Illness and the Making of Early New England

28Jan 5:30PM 2021
This is an online program

Afflictions of all sorts coursed through eighteenth-century New England – towns and cities set ablaze by epidemics, soldiers sickened and injured in the fight for ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?