Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

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

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

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

Article excerpt

The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. With essays by Henry Adams, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrea Wulf. (Charlottesville: Published by University of Virginia Press for the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016. Pp. xiv, 208. Paper, $35.00, ISBN 978-1-936520-09-1; cloth, $60.00, ISBN 978-1-936520-08-4.) The great bulk of the Thomas Jefferson papers are divided between two institutions: the Library of Congress, holding mostly items related to politics; and the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS), in some forty collections but primarily the Coolidge Collection, holding mostly family and personal papers totaling almost 10,000 items. To celebrate the 225th year of its founding, the MHS decided to publish this spectacular volume highlighting fifty-six items from its Jefferson collections, each presented in full color, with the items--and the Jefferson papers in general--put in context by three exemplary introductory essays. Peter S. Onuf, the premier scholar of Jefferson's political ideals, provides a wonderfully concise overview of Jefferson's vision for America in "The State of the World: Thomas Jefferson's Political Vision." While there could have been a dozen or more essays on particular aspects of Jefferson's interests, Andrea Wulf employs her expertise in the Euro-American world of gardening to highlight aspects of Jefferson's commitment to domestic agriculture in "Revolutionary Gardens: Jefferson, Politics, and Plants." And, making excellent use of many of the architectural drawings in the collections of the MHS, Henry Adams in "The Architectural Jefferson: The Draftsman and His Ideals" traces the evolution of the design and construction of four of Jefferson's iconic building projects: Monticello, Poplar Forest, the Virginia State Capitol, and the University of Virginia. …

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