The Thomas Jefferson Papers

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Series 5: Commonplace Books.

Legal Commonplace Book, 1762-1767
Jefferson's legal commonplace book is a companion volume to his Case Book, Fee Books, and Docket Books which are at the Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Henry E. Huntington Library. Jefferson, like most eighteenth-century American law students, compiled a book of extracts related to important legal cases and precedents that would then be a convenient source during his practice years. An alphabetical list of legal terms and definitions, undoubtedly compiled while Jefferson was a law student of George Wythe, is entered in reverse form at the back of the book. Jefferson's manuscript legal notes and draft opinions are scattered throughout the Jefferson Papers. Several compilations of Virginia laws and statutes acquired by Jefferson can be found in The Virginia Records.

Literary Commonplace Book, 1758-1772
Acquired by the Library of Congress in 1917 from the heirs of Martha Jefferson Trist, daughter of Virginia Randolph (Thomas Jefferson's granddaughter) and Nicholas Trist, the Literary Commonplace Book is the only direct documentary evidence of Jefferson's youthful education and literary interests. Jefferson extracted quotations from a wide variety of books that were either assigned by his teachers or that caught his inquiring eye. Jefferson apparently began the commmonplace under the tutelage of the Rev. James Maury and continued to make entries until his marriage on January 1, 1772. The contents of the commonplace book have been examined in detail and published in individual volumes by Gilbert Chinard and Douglas L. Wilson. Selected Bibliography