The Jefferson - Hemings ControversyHistory on trial Main Page

AboutTime LineEpisodesJefferson on Race & SlaveryResources

Bergh, Albert Ellery, ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1907.
Also available:
Clotel; or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States by William Wells Brown (1853)
This first novel by an African American follows the tragic life of a Jefferson daughter after she's auctioned off.
Ford, Paul Leceister, ed.. The Works of Thomas Jefferson. Federal Edition. 12 vols.New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-1905.
Also available:
Foster, Eugene, et al. "Jefferson Fathered Slave's Last Child." Nature 5 November 1998: 27-28.
"There is a long-standing historical controversy over the question of US President Thomas Jefferson's paternity of the children of Sally Hemings, one of his slaves. To throw some scientific light on the dispute, we have compared Y-chromosomal DNA haplotypes from male-line descendants of Field Jefferson, a paternal uncle of Thomas Jefferson, with those of male-line descendants of Thomas Woodson, Sally Hemings' putative first son, and of Eston Hemings Jefferson, her last son. The molecular findings fail to support the belief that Thomas Jefferson was Thomas Woodson's father, but provide evidence that he was the biological father of Eston Hemings Jefferson."
Getting Word: African-American Family Histories.
"The Getting Word oral history project was begun at Monticello in 1993 to preserve the histories of the African American families at Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation. Over 100 interviews with their descendants and additional archival research have brought remarkable individuals out of the shadows of slavery. We can now tell the stories of people whose lives and achievements were all but erased over the last 200 years.”
Jefferson Legacy Foundation
"The Jefferson Legacy Foundation of Ripton, Vermont is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to celebrating, applying, and raising awareness of Thomas Jefferson's living legacy in a modern world. Jefferson's legacy includes models for civic responsibility; active participation in society; revitalization of democracy; lifelong learning; service to others; and the pursuit of happiness. Our programs, publications, projects, and partnerships serve K-12, college, and graduate students as well as life-long learners; educators; scholars and historians; government organizations; and civic and historical organizations.”
Jefferson's Blood. Shelby Steele. PBS Frontline. 2000
"In 'Jefferson's Blood,' FRONTLINE correspondent Shelby Steele and producer Tom Lennon re-examine Jefferson's life, and piece together the little that can be known about Sally Hemings. Steele and Lennon also explore the repercussions of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship for the couple's modern-day descendants, many of whom are still attempting to find their place along America's blurred color line. '[Jefferson] spawned two lines of descendants--one legitimate, one not,' Steele says in the documentary. 'And this bastardized part of his family would be driven by a sense of incompleteness'."
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letters. Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
Jefferson's home, maintained by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, one of America's most sacred grounds, and the center of historical representation about him.
Monticello Association
"The Monticello Association was founded in 1913 to care for, preserve and continue the family graveyard at Monticello. It is a non-profit organization whose members include the lineal descendants of Thomas Jefferson."
The Monticello Classroom
"An online resource for upper elementary and middle school students with short bios and reports, images, activities and lesson plans."
The Monticello Plantation Database
"This website contains information about people who lived in slavery on Thomas Jefferson's Virginia plantations. It provides access to a database of information on over six hundred individuals--details of life span, family structure, occupation, and transactions like purchases and sales. It is a work in progress, which will be expanded and revised throughout 2006 and beyond. It is hoped that it will give voice to the men, women, and children whose labor sustained Jefferson's family and plantations but whose lives and contributions went unrecorded."
Monticello: Jefferson-Hemings Resources
A page with links to related content on the Monticello Web site and on other sites.
Monticello: Plantation & Slavery
"Monticello was home not only to the Jefferson family, but to workers, black and white, enslaved and free."
Monticello: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account
"TJF [Thomas Jefferson Foundation] and most historians believe that, years after his wife's death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson's records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston Hemings."
Monticello: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery
Short essay with bibliography.
Reel American History
Companion Lehigh University project has units on the films Jefferson in Paris and Sally Hemings: An American Scandal.
Report of the Monticello Research Committee on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Thomas Jefferson Foundation. January 2000.
"On December 21, 1998, Dr. Daniel P. Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, appointed a research committee of Monticello staff members, including four Ph.D.'s and one medical doctor, and charged the committee with evaluating the DNA study of Dr. Eugene Foster and associates, assessing it within the context of all other relevant historical and scientific evidence, and recommending the impact it should have on historical interpretation at Monticello."
Report on the Jefferson-Hemings Matter. The Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission. April 12, 2001.
"The release in November, 1998, of DNA evidence tying one of Sally Hemings' children to a Jefferson father, and the subsequent report by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, have led to a widespread perception both within the academic community and among the public that science has conclusively proven that Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with one of his slaves that produced one or more children. About a year ago, a number of Jefferson admirers formed the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society (TJHS), and one of their first acts was to ask a group of Jefferson scholars to reexamine the issue carefully and issue a public report. This report is the result of that inquiry." [see]
Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty
"How could the author of the Declaration of the Independence own slaves? How could twenty percent of the population of the new United States, founded on the principles of liberty and equality, live in bondage? What was life like for enslaved people in the early republic? This online exhibition uses Monticello as a lens through which to examine these questions."
Thomas Jefferson
Library of Congress exhibit: "This exhibition focuses on the extraordinary legacy of Thomas Jefferson--founding father, farmer, architect, inventor, slaveholder, book collector, scholar, diplomat, and the third president of the United States. It traces Jefferson's intellectual development from his earliest days in the Piedmont to an ever-expanding realm of influence in republican Virginia, the American Revolutionary government, the creation of the American nation, and the revolution in individual rights in America and the world."
Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive (U of Virginia)
"A guide to the University of Virginia's collections related to Thomas Jefferson, with additional links to texts and information resources about Jefferson."
Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society
"Purposes of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society: To further the honor and integrity of Thomas Jefferson, and to promote his vision and ideas, and their application in our times and in the future; To pursue truth in all matters that touch upon the legacy of Thomas Jefferson; To promote the principles of freedom, patriotism and truth, which were the hallmarks of Thomas Jefferson's life; To sponsor and perform research in matters pertaining to the private and public life of Thomas Jefferson; To stand always in opposition to those who would seek to undermine the integrity of Thomas Jefferson."
Thomas Jefferson Papers (American Memory @ Library of Congress)
"The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world."
The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia Library
Bibliography of Sources on Jefferson and the Hemings Family.
Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive (Massachusetts Historical Society)
"Selections of additional single items (letters, notes, lists) from the Massachusetts Historical Society's Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, the second largest Jefferson collection in the country."
Thomas Jefferson: 3rd president of the USA: 1797-1801. American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond.
Large selection of primary documents (speeches, letters, excerpts from Notes. etc.)
Thomas Jefferson: A guide to the University of Virginia's collections related to Thomas Jefferson, with additional links to texts and information resources about Jefferson.
"This guide combines links to the major online collections of Jefferson's writings that have been made accessible by U.Va., as well as by other institutions. It also provides links to online collections of Jefferson's quotations and other information resources about Jefferson like bibliographies. The guide also provides information about U.Va's Jefferson collections that are not available online, but are held in our Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library."
Thomas Woodson Family
"Thomas Woodson was the eldest son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Hemings was also the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles. . . . Determining the progenitor of a family is akin to determining the largest number; there is always the plus one in math, or the progenitor's parents in genealogy. Following that to the extreme a family may go back to some obscure middle age serf or even Adam and Eve. The Woodson's, though, have chosen Thomas Corbin Woodson, the issue of a union of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, as the first generation. Although the Association was formally founded in 1984, the de facto founding of the Association was in 1805."
"Tom and Sally." Garrison Keillor. April 2, 2011.
Song sung on his radio show by Keillor on Jefferson's birthday. Includes audio, lyrics, and fifty (sometimes negative) comments by listeners.
University of Virginia
Jefferson's university, in his own mind one of his greatest achievements.