Inspiring participation in public affairs
in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s life, thought, and ideals.

The JLF Library

“I cannot live without books.”
 —Thomas Jefferson

What began as a private collection by JLF Chairman Chip Stokes 20 years ago has become the Jefferson LegacyThe Jefferson Legacy Library holds 3000 titles the best collection of Jeffersonia in private hands Foundation Library. Chairman of the Jefferson Commemoration Commission under two U.S. Presidents, Merrill D. Peterson, historian, Jefferson biographer, and Thomas Jefferson Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, has described the JLF Library with its 4,000 title "undoubtedly the best collection of Jeffersonia in private hands in the United States, or in the world." The JLF Library was originally created from the bibliography outlined in Dumas Malone's six-volume biography, Jefferson and His Time, published between 1948 and 1980.

In 1983, Frank Shuffelton's Thomas Jefferson: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Writings About Him (1826-1980) was published by Garland Press with 3,447 titles.  A second volume of 729 titles appeared in 1992 to cover the years from 1981 through 1990. Since 1990, Shuffelton, a member of the JLF Board of Directors, has continued his bibliography to include present writings.  Shuffelton's work is a notable contribution to the scholarship of Thomas Jefferson and has been enormously useful for acquisitions and the cataloging of the JLF Library.

It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 titles of writings about Thomas Jefferson. The cataloging of the JLF Library includes entering these titles into our computer database. The JLF worked jointly with the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the University of Virginia to make a bibliographical
list accessible on UVA's web site.  Long-range plans for the JLF Library include gathering writings by and about other founding fathers as well.

The JLF Library also includes an important and unusual collection of artistic and research materials concerning the Lost Portraits of Thomas Jefferson by Gilbert Stuart. The JLF is seeking to re-investigate this painting and bring completion to a project begun in 1937.

The JLF Library is a comprehensive resource to be shared.

A Retreat for Life-Long Learners
The Jefferson Legacy Foundation's Retreat
Almost four miles from any neighbor, surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest, the JLF Library facilities offer a unique and favorable environment for learning.  The Library is a place where one can experience, in a profound way, the central theme of Jefferson's legacy — freedom of the mind. The JLF Library is truly a retreat, unspoiled by distraction. The JLF Library welcomes life-long learners who are eager to explore what can be accomplished with individual freedom. 

To preserve our library collection and to make it increasingly useful to visitors, we are seeking funding for the eventual construction of a new facility that would incorporate the Library into a retreat for scholars and educators.

Continuing Jefferson's search for an architecture that suits the American character and landscape, some of the most renowned American architects (H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames) and many others have pursued the quest for a democratic architecture in their own eras and by their own lights, but each has owed a debt to Jefferson, the first architect specifically to address this challenge.

The JLF Library will continue this legacy of architectural innovation. It will strengthen the Foundation's presence in the intellectual, political, and cultural life of the country, and it will provide a rare and exciting opportunity for what Jefferson called an "essay in architecture," a continuation of Jefferson's search for a truly American architecture.

The new facility will house the JLF's collection in state-of-the-art archival conditions, preserving it as a resource for the future.  It will include study areas or project rooms for individuals or groups of researchers to pursue their work in an environment that incorporates innovations from the best research libraries in the world.  The new facility will allow the JLF to reach out to the local and national community by enabling it to mount exhibitions and to hold lectures in its own purpose-built function space.  The new library will include modest living facilities for visiting educators (ranging from university scholars to elementary school teachers and children's book authors) surrounded by the natural beauty of the Green Mountain National Forest. 

Like the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which Jefferson called an "academical village," it is our vision that the new facility will become the locus of a community of learners, including educators, students, political and business leaders, writers, artists, and interested citizens, and will function as an educational instrument in its own right.  In addition to the resources provided by the center, the architecture of the facility will itself provide visitors with a unique opportunity to engage some of the concepts and ideas that were most important to Jefferson. The design of the new resource center will introduce visitors to Jefferson's interest in mathematics, botany, Palladian concepts of proportional harmony, perspective, and Platonic form.  Through an understanding of Jefferson's architectural works and design methodology, the new buildings will attempt — not necessarily in a literal resemblance to Jefferson's buildings — to be, in the deepest sense, a Jeffersonian work of architecture.   

The Jefferson Legacy Foundation
Town Office Building, P.O. Box 76
Ripton, Vermont 05766
Phone 802-388-7676 Fax: 802-388-1776

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Jamie Wyeth.
 Used with permission of the artist. Copyright © Jamie Wyeth