Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Virginia lawyer, diplomat, & statesman. Author of the Declaration of American Independence; of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom; & Father of the University of Virginia. First American Secretary of State, & 3rd president of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson by John Trumbull (1756-1843). Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., Monticello, Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong, insatiable collector of books. From his book lists & correspondence, scholars know that he had the following book collections. Of these, only the books sold to Congress (section d below) are currently represented in this listing of landscape, garden, & farming books.
Shadwell Library (1757 to 1770)
Jefferson inherited his first library from his father, Peter Jefferson, when the latter died in 1757. On 1 February 1770, a fire destroyed almost all of the books in Jefferson’s home at Shadwell.
Monticello Library Eventually Sold to Congress in 1815
(circa 1770s to 1815)
Jefferson’s second library & his largest is the book collection he began at Monticello following the fire at Shadwell. Following the Shadwell fire on 1 February 1770, Jefferson wasted no time in replacing the library he lost. In his letter to Robert Skipwith dated 3 August 1771, Jefferson invites Skipwith to the “new Rowanty,” evidently a reference to Monticello, his own "mountain of the world," or "Rowandiz, the Accadian Olympos," & to his library there. Within this 2nd library collection, scholars identify the following sub-collections:
a March 1783 Library Reconstructed (circa 1770s to 6 March 1783)
By 4 August 1773, Jefferson notes in his Memorandum Books a count of 1,256 volumes in his library at Monticello. In 1784 as he left America to take up his appointment by Congress as minister plenipotentiary to France, he may have had with him a catalog of the books he owned, along with titles he wished to acquire abroad. Earlier the previous year in Philadelphia, he had noted on page 5 of this catalog a count of 2,640 volumes as of 6 March 1783. He also states that he had placed a checkmark before each title he owned, & that unmarked titles indicate books that he hoped to acquire. Using this specific notation recorded by Jefferson himself in his 1783 Catalog, scholar Thomas Baughn has reconstructed a list of books that Jefferson owned as of this date. A list of this March 1783 Library Reconstructed library is available here.
b Books Acquired While in Europe (1784 to 1789)
During his appointment as minister plenipotentiary & later minister to France from 1784 to 1789, Jefferson purchased some 2,000 volumes. Before he returned to America in 1789, he compiled a separate list of the books he acquired while abroad. This 1789 Catalog is a 50-page unbound manuscript in Jefferson’s own hand & is today at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The manuscript pages have been digitized by the Society & are available here. A transcription of this manuscript made by Thomas Baughn is available here.
c 1783 Catalog (circa 1770s to 1812)
The 1783 Catalog manuscript, a 246-page bound manuscript in Jefferson’s hand, is believed to be a record of his library following the Shadwell fire in 1770. In 1812, when this catalogue became crammed with interlineations, erasures, & marginal insertions, Jefferson made a fair copy of this catalogue, that he probably maintained for his offer to sell his library to Congress in 1814. The 1783 Catalog is today at the Massachusetts Historical Society, available here. A transcription of this manuscript made by Thomas Baughn is available here.
d Books Sold to Congress (1815)
When the invading British army burned the congressional library in Washington, D.C. in 1814, an outraged Jefferson promptly offered his own library of 6,700 volumes to Congress to replace the one that was lost. A 5-volume work, The Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, was published between 1952 & 1959. This is available online here through the Library of Congress; a transcribed electronic version of Sowerby's catalogue is available here. There is a 2nd manuscript associated with the books Jefferson sold to Congress. In 1823 Jefferson commissioned Nicholas Philip Trist, the young man who would eventually become Jefferson’s private secretary & his grandson-in-law, to recreate a list of the books sold to Congress. This 113-page Trist Catalogue manuscript was rediscovered at the Library of Congress, available online here.
Retirement Library (1815 to 1826)
Following the 1815 sale of the bulk of his library to Congress, Jefferson continued to acquire books. The Retirement Library Catalogue in Jefferson’s own hand constituted his 3rd & final library at Monticello. The 83-page bound manuscript is at the Library of Congress, & is available online here, with a transcription available here. After Jefferson died in 1826, his library at Monticello was sold at auction through auctioneer, Nathaniel P. Poor, in 1829 in Washington, D.C. The printed Poor Catalogue is available online here.
Poplar Forest Library (1811 to 1826)
After Jefferson’s retirement from public office in 1809, he also maintained a library at his Poplar Forest retreat in Bedford County from around 1811. At his death, his books were inherited by his grandson, Francis Eppes, who offered them up for sale in 1873. There is no separate sale catalogue for this library, except for the portion that was listed in the 1873 auction catalogue of George A. Leavitt, published in New York City. The Leavitt Catalogue was transcribed by John R. Barden in 1999, & edited by Thomas Baughn, & is available here.
For more information, go to the Thomas Jefferson's Libraries website at Monticello. See also the Library of Congress' interactive exhibit, Thomas Jefferson's Library.
Jefferson's Books on Landscape, Garden, & Farm
Abercrombie, John Every man his own gardener Being a new, and much more complete, gardener's kalendar than any one hitherto published 1767
Abercrombie, John The gardener's pocket dictionary ; or, a systematic arrangement of trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers and fruits 1786
Agricola, Georg Andreas The experimental husbandman and gardener: containing a new method of improving estates and gardens 1726
Ambler, Jacquelin A treatise on the culture of lucerne 1800
Baird, Thomas General view of the agriculture of the County of Middlesex 1793
Bakewell, Robert Observations on the influence of soil and climate upon wool 1808
Baildon, Joseph The laurel. a new collection of English songs and cantatas : sung by Mr. Lowe and Miss Falkner at Vaux-Hall and Marybon-Gardens / Book II
Belsches, R. General view of the agriculture of the county of Stirling 1796
Billingsley, John General view of the agriculture in the county of Somerset 1794
Binns, John Alexander A treatise on practical farming; embracing particularly the following subjects, viz. the use of plaister of Paris 1803
Bordley, John Beale Sketches on rotations of crops, and other rural matters, To which are annexed Intimations on manufactures 1797
Bordley, John Beale Essays and notes on husbandry and rural affairs 1799
Bordley, John Beale Sketches on rotations of crops, and other rural matters
Bordley, John Beale Outlines of a plan, for establishing a state society of agriculture in Pennsylvania 1794
Bordley, John Beale Country habitations 1798
Bordley, John Beale Husbandry, dependant on Live Stock 1799
Bordley, John Beale Hemp 1799
Bradley, Richard New improvements of planting and gardening : both philosophical and practical 1726
Bradley, Richard A General treatise of husbandry and gardening 1724
Bradley, Richard Ten practical discourses concerning the four elements, as they relate to the growth of plants 1733
Richard Bradley Dictionarium botanicum: or, A botanical dictionary for the use of the curious in husbandry and gardening
Chambers, Sir William Plans, elevations, sections, and perspective views of the gardens and buildings at Kew, in Surry 1763
Chambers, Sir William Designs of Chinese buildings, furniture, dresses, machines and utensils, engraved by the best hands, from the originals drawn in China
Cointeraux, François École d'architecture rurale
Custis, George Washington Parke An address to the people of the United States, on the importance of encouraging agriculture & domestic manufactures 1808
Darwin, Erasmus The botanic garden : a poem, in two parts. With philosophical notes.
Daubenton, Louis Jean Marie Advice to shepherds and owners of flocks on the care and management of sheep 1810
Dezallier d'Argentville, Antoine Joseph The theory and practice of gardening 1728
Dickson, Adam The husbandry of the ancients 1788
Donaldson, James General view of the agriculture of the county of Northampton 1794
Erskine, John Francis General view of the agriculture of the county of Clackmannan 1795
Errard, Charles Parallele de l'architecture antique avec la moderne, suivant les dix principaux auteurs qui ont écrit des cinq ordres
Evelyn, John Terra: a philosophical discourse of earth 1787
Evelyn, John Sylva, or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesties dominions 1664
Fordyce, George Elements of agriculture and vegetation 1771
Forsyth, William A treatise on the culture and management of fruit-trees 1802
Gardiner, John The American gardener: containing ample directions for working a kitchen garden, every month in the year 1804
Gentil, François Le jardinier solitaire, ou, Dialogues entre un
curieux & un jardinier solitaire
Haines, Charles Considerations on the great western canal, from the Hudson to Lake Erie : with a view of its expence, advantages, and progress. Re-published by order of the New-York Corresponding Association, for the promotion of internal improvements
Hale, Thomas A compleat body of husbandry 1758
Hales, Stephen Statical essays; containing Vegetable Staticks 1738
Heely, Joseph Letters on the beauties of Hagley, Envil, and the Leasowes 1777
Heron, Henry A collection of songs. sung at Marybone Gardens by Miss Thomas / Book V and A collection of songs. sung at Marybone Gardens by Mr. Rennoldson / Book IV
Hepburn, Sir George Buchan General view of the agriculture and rural economy of East
Home, Francis The principles of agriculture and vegetation 1762
Home, Lord Kames, Henry The gentleman farmer 1779
Jacob, Giles The country gentleman's vade mecum 1717
Kirwan, Richard The manures most advantageously applicable to the various sorts of soils, and the causes of their beneficial effect 1796
Langley, Batty Pomona: or, the Fruit-Garden Illustrated 1729
Langley, Batty Practical geometry applied to the useful arts of building surveying, gardening, and mensuration
Lastri, Marco Antonio Corso di agricoltura di un accademico georgofilo autore della Biblioteca georgica
Livingston, Robert R. Essay on sheep; their varieties--account of the merinoes of Spain, France &c 1809
Logan, George Fourteen agricultural experiments, to ascertain the best rotation of crops 1797
Logan, George A letter to the citizens of Pennsylvania, on the necessity of promoting agriculture, manufactures & the useful arts 1800
M'Mahon, Bernard The American gardener's calendar; adapted to the climates and seasons of the United States 1806
Main, Thomas Directions for the transplantation and management of young thorn or other hedge plants 1807
Miller, Philip The gardeners kalendar ; directing what works are necessary to be performed every month 1765
Miller, Philip The gardener's dictionary : containing the best and newest methods of cultivating 1768
Miller, Philip Dictionnaire des jardiniers, contenant les méthodes les plus sûres et les plus modernes pour cultiver et améliorer les jardins potagers, à fruits, à fleurs et les pépinières, ainsi que pour réformer les anciennes pratiques d'agriculture; avec des moyens nouveaux de faire et conserver le vin, suivant les procédés actuellement en usage parmi les vignerons les plus instruits de plusieurs pays de l'Europe...
Moore, Thomas The great error of American agriculture exposed : and hints for improvement suggested 1801
Mortimer, John The whole art of husbandry: or, The way of managing and improving of land 1721
Naismith, John Observations on the different breeds of sheep and the state of sheep farming, in the southern districts of Scotland 1795
Parkinson, Richard The experienced farmer 1799
Parry, R. Particulars of the breeding stock, late the property of Mr. Robert Fowler, of Little Rollright 1791
Pearce, William General view of the agriculture in Berkshire 1794
Pelloutier, Simon Histoire des Celtes : et particulierment des Gaulois et des Germains, depuis les tems fabuleux, jusqu'à la prise de Rome par les Gaulois
Peters, Richard Agricultural enquiries on plaister of Paris, also, facts, observations, and conjectures on that substance 1797
Pitt, William General view of the agriculture of the county of Stafford 1794
Randolph, John A treatise on gardening 1793
Reed, Joseph Lyric harmony : consisting of eighteen entire new ballads with Colin and Phaebe, in score : as perform'd at Vaux Hall Gardens by Mrs. Arne and Mr. Lowe : opera quarta by Thomas Augustine Arne Madrigal and Trulletta. A mock-tragedy. Acted (under the direction of Mr. Cibber) at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden. With notes by the author, and Dr. Humbug, critick and censor-general
Roscoe, William An address delivered before the proprietors of the botanic garden in Liverpool previous to opening the garden, May
Seeley, Benton Stowe : a description of the magnificent house and gardens of the Right Honourable Richard Grenville Temple 1783
Spurrier, John The practical farmer: being a new and compendious system of husbandry 1793
Stone, Thomas General view of the agriculture of the county of Huntingdon 1793
Strickland, Sir William Observations on the agriculture of the United States of America 1801
Taylor, John Arator; being a series of agricultural essays 1813
Trinci, Cosimo L'agricoltore sperimentato, ovvero, Regole generali sopra l'agricoltura
Ure, David General view of the agriculture of the County of Kinross 1797
Vancouver, Charles General view of the agriculture in the county of Essex 1795
Whately, Thomas Observations on modern gardening 1770
Young, Arthur Rural oeconomy, or, Essays on the practical parts of husbandry 1773
Young, Arthur Proceedings of His Majesty's most honourable Privy council, and information received, respecting an insect 1789
Young, Arthur The farmer's guide in hiring and stocking farms 1771
Young, Arthur Travels during the years 1787, 1788 and 1789 1793
The Anglo-Saxon version, from the historian Orosius / by Ælfred the Great ; together with an English translation from the Anglo-Saxon by Paulus Orosius
The general history of Polybius / translated from the Greek by Mr. Hampton by Polybius
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