Search DH@UVA

Your Portal to the Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia

Notes on the State of Virginia

From the website: 

This site invites users users to inspect and compare two different eighteenth-century printings of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, and to study a third, modernized and searchable reading text. The reading text, newly transcribed and annotated, has been digested under the main milestones of the printed text and made navigable on phones, tablets, and laptops as well as desktop computers. Thumbnail images to the right of the text link to archive-quality, high-resolution scans of two unique and historical objects that are now among the holdings of the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

One set of scans reproduces a copy of Notes on the State of Virginia that Jefferson had privately printed in Paris in 1784 and that was presented to the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette. (Jefferson's inscription to Lafayette appears on the book's flyleaf.)

The second set of scans is taken from Jefferson's own copy of the first published edition, which was printed for the London publisher John Stockdale in 1787. This copy contains hundreds of annotations, corrections, and revisions in Jefferson's own handwriting, many of them interlineated in the text or set off in the margins; other additions appear on scraps of paper that were later inserted when the copy was rebound in the twentieth century.

It is this second, personal artifact that supplies our copy text. What the scanned pages reveal is that Jefferson never thought of his Notes as a finished book. Indeed, filled with marginalia and manuscript inserts (newly transcribed and reproduced here), Jefferson's personal copy of the Notes strains against received notions of the book as printed, fixed, and standardly paginated, and therefore lends itself well to study in a digital environment.

This site also publishes the large map that was folded up and bound in with Jefferson's personal copy of the text. The map, engraved for the Stockdale edition and based in large part on one that had been published by Joshua Frye and Thomas Jefferson’s father Peter Jefferson in 1753, is another means by which the book attempts to represent Virginia and surrounding areas in print. In this edition, the original map has been georectified and overlaid on to a modern digital map of the world. The volume's covers, endpapers, letters, and other documentary materials may be viewed with the University of Virginia Library's iView MediaPro publication of the scans.

Technical Approach: 
Display Name: