This page contains a general list of suggested reading material pertaining to Thomas Jefferson and his world, organized by topic. Some of these books may be purchased online through our Museum Shop. Some may be out of print, but can be obtained through your local library or used bookseller. Titles are linked to WorldCat, where you can search for copies in libraries near you.
For more specialized references on specific topics, see "Further Sources" listed in individual articles in the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.
Beiswanger, William L. Monticello in Measured Drawings. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1998. Text by Monticello's emeritus Robert H. Smith Director of Restoration, accompanied by reproductions of the measured drawings of Monticello done by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Kimball, Marie. Kimball's unfinished multi-volume study of Jefferson does a particularly thorough job of discussing Jefferson's relationships, and contains a fairly extensive section on his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson.
Malone, Dumas. Thomas Jefferson: A Brief Biography. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1993. 48 pp. A reprint of Malone's 1933 essay on Jefferson for the Dictionary of American Biography, with a preface by Merrill Peterson.
Padover, Saul K. Jefferson. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1942. 459 pp. Abridged version reprinted by New American Library in 1952 and 1970.
Randall, Henry S. The Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1858. This is one of the first major biographies of Thomas Jefferson, for which the author interviewed members of Jefferson's family. Modern reprints are available. Also available online: vol. 1, 2, 3.
Randolph, Sarah N. The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Harper, 1871; reprints, 1939 (University Press), 1947 (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation), 1958 (Frederick Ungar), 1967 (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation), and 1978 (University Press of Virginia). Also available online. A sentimental but highly readable and entertaining biography by Jefferson's great-granddaughter.
Betts, Edwin M., and James Bear, Jr., eds. The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 1966; reprint, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1986. Extensive (but not exhaustive) collection of transcribed letters between Thomas Jefferson, his children, grandchildren, and occasionally other relatives.
Merrill, Boynton, Jr. Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 1987 (2nd ed.). A study of the two sons of Thomas Jefferson's sister Lucy Jefferson Lewis, and their involvement in a murder case in Kentucky in 1811-1812. Rich source of information on the extended Lewis-Jefferson family.
Randall, Henry S. The Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1857. This is one of the first major biographies of Thomas Jefferson, for which the author interviewed members of Jefferson's family. Modern reprints are available.
Yeck, Joanne. The Jefferson Brothers. Kettering, OH: Slate River Press, 2012. About Thomas Jefferson's brother Randolph, and their relationship with each other.
Food and Drink
Fowler, Damon Lee, ed. Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2005. Includes essays by Monticello scholars on the food culture at Monticello, along with modernized versions of recipes from Jefferson family sources.
Kimball, Marie. Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book. Richmond: Garrett & Massie, 1938; reprinted multiple times. The recipes in Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book are from a manuscript inherited by descendants of Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist. There are a few recipes recorded by Jefferson himself, but many of the recipes included are from non-Monticello sources.
Lawrence, R. de Treville, III. Jefferson and Wine: Model of Moderation. The Plains, Va.: Vinifera Wine Growers Association, 1989. A collection of essays by various scholars on Jefferson and wine.
Randolph, Mary. The Virginia House-Wife. Washington, D.C.: Davis and Force, 1824; reprinted multiple times. The 1984 edition edited by Karen Hess is the most widely available in print. This collection of recipes was written and published by a relative of the Jefferson family by marriage. Also available online. Be advised that editions published after Randolph's death in 1828 contain unauthorized additions and changes.
Peterson, Merrill D., ed. Visitors to Monticello. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Selected first-hand accounts of visits to Monticello from 1780 to 1984.
Stein, Susan R. The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. New York: Abrams, in association with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1993. This commemorative catalog documents many of the objects on display at Monticello for the 250th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2002. Contains essays by Monticello's historians and curators on the architecture, furnishings, and gardens at Monticello.
Dewey, Frank L. Thomas Jefferson, Lawyer. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1986. This book has a helpful appendix listing all of the manuscript sources for Jefferson's legal practice.
Holmes, David. Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. A good broad introduction to the religious faith of many of the Founding Fathers, including Franklin, Washington, Adams, Madison, Monroe, and Jefferson.
Sheridan, Eugene R. Jefferson and Religion. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 1998. The text of this book, part of the Monticello Monograph series, is almost identical to the introduction to Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels (above).