Of A Book In Thomas Jeffersons Collection Is Given By U.Va.
To Library Of Congress
17, 2000 -- University
of Virginia President John T. Casteen III today presented to the
Library of Congress a copy of one of the books missing from the
personal collection of Thomas Jefferson that the Library had purchased
from Jefferson in 1814.
Library of Congress has been searching for copies of a number of
highly sought-after books from Jefferson's collection -- about 780
in all -- to replace volumes that were lost in a Christmas Eve fire
the suggestion of Albert H. Small, a member of both the University's
Board of Visitors and the Library of Congress's Madison Council,
U.Va. librarians reviewed the list of missing volumes and found
that the University possessed two copies of a slim volume of Constantin-Francois
Volney's "The ruins: or A survey of the revolutions of empires,"
a translation from the French and published in 1796 by William A.
Davis in New York. This translation of Volneys work is the
same edition as the one Jefferson sold to Congress.
the small and worn Volney volume is not significant in appearance,
Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections
division at the Library of Congress, said that because of Jeffersons
importance as author of the Declaration of Independence and as the
countrys third president, it is important to know first-hand
the sources that influenced his thinking.
Librarian Karin Wittenborg, noting that the U.Va. Library had duplicates
of the Volney title, said it seemed appropriate to give one copy
to the Library of Congress. "We feel a special affinity for
the Library of Congress, beyond the simple fact that we are two
research libraries with important collections relating to Jefferson
and American history and literature. Both of our founding collections
were personally selected by Thomas Jefferson." The Library
of Congress hopes to assemble the complete set in time for the Librarys
200th anniversary in April.
a philosopher who taught at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris,
was an author well known to Jefferson. During Jeffersons years
in France they probably met, and Volney also visited Jefferson at
Monticello the same year the English translation of his book appeared.
In his work, Volney combines picturesque description with philosophical
discussion on the origin and growth of social, political, and religious
institutions. Volney concludes his discussion in favor of the equality
of all men before the law and the overthrow of tyranny, and states
a need for religious toleration. Similar ideas were represented
in Jeffersons writing of the Declaration of Independence and
the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
more information or for a photo of the book and presentation, contact
Jeanne Hammer at the University Library at (804) 924-3246.
Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856