For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-jefferson-library 😊
Tuesday is Books & Libraries Day here at the River Houses, and since this Saturday (13 April) is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, why not spend some time with your students this week on a ready-made lesson plan from the Library of Congress that asks you to evaluate the case for purchasing Thomas Jefferson’s personal library as a resource for the nation:
- ➔ Thomas Jefferson’s Library: Making the Case for a National Library (Library of Congress Lesson Plan)
In the lesson, which uses original sources, students are asked to “examine a letter written by Thomas Jefferson and identify techniques he used to persuade Congress to purchase his personal library. Students consider a selection of Jefferson’s books and then write their own persuasive letters urging the books’ purchase, while considering the question: ‘Why would Congress need this book to shape or govern the nation?’”
The lesson is recommended for grades 6–12, and it includes all the background material needed. I have a feeling it’s just the kind of project that some clever homeschoolers could dive right into. 😊
Jefferson did succeed in persuading Congress to purchase his library, and his books became the core collection of the Library of Congress, our national library. Every American should know the story:
“On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved an appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of “such books as may be necessary for the use of [C]ongress.”
“The first books purchased were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. The collection of 740 volumes and three maps was stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library’s first home. At the time, it was not yet much of a building — only its north wing had been completed.
“From 1802 to 1805, the small collection was located in a room previously occupied by the House of Representatives. It was later moved to various places in the Capitol until August 24, 1814, when the British burned and destroyed the Capitol, including the Library.
“To replace the loss, Thomas Jefferson in 1815 sold his personal library of 6,487 volumes — which was then unrivaled in America — to Congress. Sadly, a second fire on Christmas Eve of 1851 destroyed two-thirds of those volumes. But the Jefferson books nonetheless remain the core from which the Library’s present collections grew.“ (Library of Congress Blog)
What treasures have you discovered in your library lately? 😊
❡ Explore more: Have you visited all the local libraries in your area? There may be more than you realize! The WorldCat Library Finder (worldcat.org/libraries) will help you locate all the libraries near you — public and private, large and small — and the WorldCat catalog itself (worldcat.org) will help you find the closest copy of almost any book in the world. 😊