Major university presses in the United States have been responsible for much of the scholarly work in organizing and making available the letters and other papers of our nation’s early leaders. For decades, this work has resulted in extensive series of published volumes, such as this collection of George Washington papers from the University Press of Virginia.
In more recent years, some publishers have digitized these works for the online commercial publishing market. Again, here is an example of Washington papers from UVa’s Rotunda service, to which Washington and Lee has subscribed for a number of years.
After years of pressure from scholars and even from the U.S. Congress, who have asked why Americans should have to pay to read these historic works, most of these papers are now being made available online without charge through a new service hosted by the National Archives called Founders Online. The W&L library will provide links to this invaluable site in multiple places within our Web site and catalog.
Founders Online has been in development for quite a few years and finally made its debut in June, giving many researchers their first look at the possibilities associated with online access. Researchers at W&L and elsewhere are able to search for individual words or names within documents, search for particular recipients or authors, and more.
If you have comments or questions, please contact Senior Reference Dick Grefe.