Records of the Founders


7 March 2014

Papers of America's "founding fathers" are widely scattered across governmental and university archives. For three of the best online collections try:

Founders Online
Correspondence and other writings of six major shapers of the American nation: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. "Over 149,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects."

This joint project of the U.S. National Archives and the University of Virginia makes accessible not just the concerns of the founders but also those of poor farmers, merchants, tradesmen, entrepreneurs, scientists, religious leaders, military men, and political hopefuls who saw something to be gained from sharing their concerns with the leaders of the new nation.

Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive

The Massachusetts Historical Society, "a private, non-profit manuscripts repository located in Boston" offers "full-color images and some transcriptions of manuscripts selected from the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts held bt MHS," including Jefferson's Farm Book and Garden Book, architectural drawings, his famed "Notes on the State of Virginia."

Papers of the Presidents

Yale University's Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History & Diplomacy, offers manuscript papers of four of the founders and four other American presidents: George Washington, John Adams,Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, William Clinton, and George W. Bush.