Adding to the Historical Record: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson

A letter recently sold at Raab to be included in the Thomas Jefferson Papers project


Not too long ago, The Raab Collection premiered a collection of noteworthy autographs and historical documents that came to us as part of an inherited family collection. One of the highlights was an unpublished 1781 letter from Baron von Steuben to Thomas Jefferson, then a governor in exile.

Upon first introducing the letter to our customers, we quickly heard back from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University. They asked if we would send high-resolution scans of this previously unknown letter to Jefferson. We were happy to oblige; it is part of our mission to add to the historical record however we can.  

We’re told the von Steuben letter will potentially be added to the Rotunda, the multi-volume edition of Jefferson’s correspondence, as a supplemental document. The original document is now part of a prominent private collection. 

As the Papers’ general editor James P. McClure notes, “Documents were at the center of Thomas Jefferson’s life and provide the basis of our understanding of him and his world…. Through his correspondence, he participated in conversations by mail, some  of them of long duration and over great distances, about politics and policy, foreign affairs, agriculture, economics, science, family matters, and numerous other subjects. Friends, family, colleagues, and strangers wrote to him. Each communication tells us something about life at the time it was written.”  

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