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Summer Jefferson Symposium

Writing for, to and about Jefferson: William Short

Serving as Thomas Jefferson's private secretary during his term as minister to France in 1784-1789, William Short was responsible for a great deal of Jefferson's written words.  But what do Short's own words - in the extensive correspondence he exchanged with Jefferson and with other diplomats, political leaders, and personal friends - tell us about Jefferson, outside the boundaries of Jefferson's careful self-fashioning?  As Jefferson's "adoptive son", a closer look at Short's writing for and to Jefferson provide a unique context for understanding Jefferson.


Laura Voisin George
Historic Research Specialist,

Laura Voisin George, Spring 2012 scholar-in-residence in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, engaged her students in ongoing research in the "Worlds of William Short" undergraduate seminar.  As the University of Virginia Foundation's historic research specialist at Morven, a historic estate purchased in 1795 by Thomas Jefferson for his protégé William Short, she collaborates with numerous universities and institutions while working with faculty and students to make Morven a resource for their own research. Morven has been featured on PBS, C-SPAN and in the Huntington Library's magazine Frontiers.

"I cannot live without books."
- Thomas Jefferson