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Summer Jefferson Symposium

The Jeffersons’ Shadwell Library

When his family’s house at Shadwell burned in 1770, Jefferson lamented the loss of his books, claiming “Would to god it had been the money; then had it never cost me a sigh!” The burned Shadwell library is among Jefferson’s “lost libraries,” and included the books he collected as a young scholar and lawyer in addition to the books his parents owned. The earliest Shadwell library of Peter and Jane Jefferson describes their investment in books about English and Virginia history and law, belles lettres, and global exploration, young Jefferson’s first understanding of the world of books and his place in it.


Susan Kern
Visting Associate Professor in History,
College of William and Mary

Susan Kern is Visiting Associate Professor in history at the College of William & Mary where she teaches for history and NIAHD (the National Institute of American History and Democracy), a program of courses in early American history, material culture, and museum studies. Her courses include Public History, Field School in Material Culture, Thomas Jefferson in America and the World, History of Museums and Historic Preservation, and Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg. She has also taught at the University of Virginia in the Graduate Program in the History of Art and Architecture. Kern has a Ph.D. in History from The College of William & Mary, an M.A. in Architectural history from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. from West Chester University, and worked in the archaeology department at Monticello.

Her recent book The Jeffersons at Shadwell (Yale 2010), won the Richard Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginia Biography from the Virginia Historical Society and the Abbott Lowell Cummings Award from the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

"I cannot live without books."
- Thomas Jefferson