Washington University in St. Louis discovered 69 of Thomas Jefferson’s books, along with some handwritten notes. Coupled with the 5 books about which the university already knew, the 74 historical books makes this collection the third largest in the United States, trailing the Library of Congress and the University of Virginia.
The collection, announced on President’s Day, was among about 3,000 other books that had been donated to the university in 1880 following the deaths of Joseph Coolidge and Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, Jefferson’s granddaughter. Historians are combing through these old books, while librarians search for any others that may be hiding.
The search, which began 18 months ago by Ann Lucas Birle and Edrina Tay, was begun to locate the collection of books held by the couple. In October, the researchers found out that the Coolidges’ daughter and her husband had donated the books to Washington University.
Tay and Birle are still on the hunt for another 15 books that the Coolidge had owned. While these books have not been found at the university as of yet, the researchers will be searching the entire collection of books linked to the Coolidges. They believe more books will be found in their search.
A number of Jefferson scholars went to St. Louis last week to confirm that the books really belonged to Thomas Jefferson. After three days, all 74 books were confirmed. While scholars are being invited to come and look at the books, some of the volumes have been put on display at the school.