Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From the Stacks: Jefferson's Library

"I cannot live without books." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's Libraries is a project based at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, to compile information about Jefferson's libraries and his books. Jefferson read extensively and collected many books over his lifetime. In 1815, he sold a collection of books to Congress to replace the library burned by the British during the War of 1812.

Books once owned by Jefferson are now held in many different institutions across the country. This project reunites them in the virtual world. Researchers can search Thomas Jefferson's Library, part of the Libraries of Early America project in Librarything. This catalog contains entries for "the books Thomas Jefferson owned, desired to own, read, recommended or presented to others throughout his lifetime." It currently includes over 5,000 entries, drawn from sources such as Jefferson's book lists, auction catalogs, and correspondence.

Included are 29 titles from Jefferson's library now owned by the William L. Clements Library. These may be found in LibraryThing with notes added by the Jefferson Libraries project about each book's provenance and history. Below, links to the catalog entries in the Clements Library catalog:

Vertot, abbé de. The history of the revolutions that happened in the government of the Roman Republic (London, 1721). Clements Library has vol. 1 only.

Jefferson, Thomas, A manual of parliamentary practice (Washington, D.C., 1801)

Sampson, William, Memoirs of William Sampson (New York, 1807)

Dufief, N.G., Dictionnaire nouveau et universel (Philadelphia, 1810)

Tracts Physic (bound volume of pamphlets):
  1. Pope, Joseph, [Manuscript letter and nine manuscript essays on scientific subjects] [181-?]
  2. Cuvier, Georges, Analyse des travaux de la classe des sciences mathématiques et physiques de l'Institut Imperial, pendant l'année 1812 (Paris, 1813)
  3. Clinton, DeWitt, An introductory discourse, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York (New York, 1815)
  4. Journal de physique, de chimie et d'histoire naturelle, v.LXIX, October, 1809
  5. Journal de physique, de chimie et d'histoire naturelle, v.LXIX, November, 1809
  6. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the eclipse of the sun of Sept. 17, 1811 [Boston, 1811?]
  7. Bowditch, Nathaniel, Elements of the orbit of the comet of 1811 [Boston, 1812?]
  8. Bowditch, Nathaniel, Estimate of the height of the White Hills in New Hampshire [Boston, 1812?]
  9. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the variation of the magnetical needle [Boston, 1812?]
  10. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the motion of a pendulum suspended from two points [Boston, 1812?]
  11. Hosack, David, Observations on the laws governing the communication of contagious diseases (New York, 1815)
Natural History (bound volume of pamphlets):
  1. Peyroux de la Coudrenière, Mémoire sur les sept espèces d'hommes, et sur les causes des altérations de ces espèces (Paris, 1814)
  2. Hosack, David, Syllabus of the course of lectures on botany, delivered in Columbia college (New York, 1814)
  3. Cels, Francois, Catalogue des arbres, arbustes, et autres plantes de serre chaude, d'orangerie et de pleine terre (Paris, 1817)
  4. Rafinesque, C.S., Circular address on botany and zoology (Philadelphia, 1816)
  5. Clinton, DeWitt, Remarks on the fishes of the western waters of the state of New-York [18--]
  6. Linnaean Society of New England, Boston, Report of a committee of the Linnæn society of New England, relative to a large marine animal, supposed to be a serpent ( Boston, 1817)
  7. Humboldt, Alexander von, Ideas sobre el límite inferior de la nieve perpétua, y sobre la geografía de las plantas [Havana, 1804]
  8. Bigelow, Joseph, Some account of the White mountains of New Hampshire [Boston, 1816]
  9. Clinton, DeWitt, A memoir on the antiquities of the western parts of the state of New-York (Albany, 1818)
  10. McCulloh, J.H., Researches on America: Being some attempt to settle some points relative to the aborigines of America (Baltimore, 1817)
  11. Cooper, Thomas, Introductory lecture on mineralogy [1817]
  12. Meason, Gilbert Laing, De la plantation du melèze (Pinus larix) [Paris, 1821?]
  13. Maclure, William, Observations on the geology of the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1817)
  14. Fischer von Waldheim, Gotthelf, Essai sur la turquoise et sur la calaite par Gotthelf Fischer (Moscow, 1816)


Christopher Busta-Peck said...

It's so interesting that you post this now. I was just trying to figure out what had happened to the copy of Memoirs of William Sampson that was owned by both Thomas Jefferson and I.T. Frary, author of Thomas Jefferson: Architect and Builder.

Here's a 1943 article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, addressing an exhibit of the book and several other Jefferson relics in Frary's possession, at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

It's still unclear as to what happened to the other relics.

I'd be quite interested to know why the book eneded up at the University of Michigan instead of at the Library of Congress, as it seems Frary had promised.

Clements Library said...

Thanks for your interest! We don't have much information yet about the circumstances surrounding the gift. According to the library catalog record, I.T. Frary gave the book to Randolph Adams, then Director of the Clements Library, in 1944. It was cataloged for the Library in 1967. Included with the book is a postcard addressed from I.T. Frary to Randolph Adams.

There might be more information in Randolph Adams' correspondence files (part of the William L. Clements Library records collection held at the Bentley Historical Library).

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