Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
We’re in our Fall Fundraiser and you can help! Support KSMU programming today!

74 Volumes of Thomas Jefferson's Private Library Discovered in Missouri


A university in Missouri has discovered a collection of Thomas Jefferson’s private books. As KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports, the university didn’t realize it had been sitting on the rare collection for 131 years.

Washington University in St. Louis says it learned from two scholars at Monticello that the 74 volumes may already be in its library system. When the books were donated to the university way back in 1880, the donor did not indicate that they had belonged to the third president.

Anne Posega is the head of Special Collections at Washington University.

“They had been able to track down that these books, which had been purchased by Jefferson’s granddaughter, Ellen Coolidge, had been donated by her son-in-law to Washington University,” Posega said.

Posega says some are on history and architecture, and include Jefferson’s handwritten notes on the pages.

“A lot of them are classics, and many of them in Greek. There’s a number of French books as well; there are books in Italian, Latin and English,” she said.

The collection becomes the third largest of Jefferson’s books, after the Library of Congress and the University of Virginia.

I’m Jennifer Moore.