The Ellen Coolidge Letter

This handwritten letter by Ellen Randolph Coolidge, granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, was written 24 October 1858 to her husband. From Ellen Coolidge LetterBook, University of Virginia Alderman Library.


This was a series of articles by S. F. Wetmore in the Pike County (Ohio) Republican, a weekly newspaper in Waverly, Ohio. Historians did not become aware of the articles until the mid 1950s.

Nature's false headlinE

A false headline, “Jefferson fathered slave’s last child,” to an article in the November 5, 1998 issue of Nature magazine generated anew the rumors that Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with an enslaved woman Sally Hemings.

Dialogue between John Works and Annette Gordon Reed

When the transcription errors, discovered and documented in The Jefferson Hemings Myth: An American Travesty, were included in The Jefferson – Hemings Controversy: Report of the Scholars Commission, John Works notified the Dean of New York Law School in a letter of July 4, 2001, that the Ellen Coolidge letter had been "doctored." 

Index Card for Hemings, Sally

Sally Hemings is alleged to have had a 35 year affair with the President of the United States, which produced at least 5 children. Yet, there is almost no information on her character, personality or activities at Monticello. In its year-long study, the Scholars Commission demonstrated its lack of information about her by placing what was known on a 3 x 5 index card.
This text is reproduced from The Jefferson – Hemings Controversy: Report of the Scholars Commission, edited by Robert F. Turner (Carolina Academic Press 2001, 2011) p. 69.

Letter from Henry Randall to James Parton

When James Parton was preparing his Life of Thomas Jefferson (1874), he contacted Henry S. Randall, who had written a previous biography of Jefferson in 1858, about the "Dusky Sally Story." Randall responded by letter in 1868, the major portion of which appeared in Parton's book. The full text was later published in James Parton – The Father of Modern Biography, by Milton E Flower (1951). This text is taken from In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: the Sally Hemings Sex Scandal, by William G Hyland Jr, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009) pp. 204-207
There are several important observations in the letter attributed to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson's grandson. It should be noted that there was at least a 10 year gap between the conversation and the writing of the Randall letter. Randall admits that the conversation with Randolph was based on his "recall."