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University of Virginia UVA Arts & Sciences Default

Public Invited to Washington Papers’ 50th Anniversary Events

Jan 25, 2019 |
Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, 1795
National Gallery of Art

The Washington Papers, established in 1968 to publish a comprehensive edition of George Washington’s correspondence, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its launch later this week with two public events on Friday, Feb. 1.

In Alderman Library, The Washington Papers will host an open house on 5th Floor East. Project editors will be on hand to inform visitors about the decades of documentary editing required to prepare the project’s collection of George and Martha Washington’s correspondence and documents from George Washington’s years in the Revolutionary War and as the first U.S. president.

In the Byrd/Morris Room of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library, an exhibition of Washington-related materials owned by the University of Virginia will include a 1755 letter written by George Washington detailing the defeat of Gen. Edward Braddock at the Battle of Monongahela, a 1760 letter written by George Washington and loaned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and an 1801 letter written by Thomas Jefferson, describing a visit with Martha Washington at Mount Vernon.

Both free events are scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 1.

Lynn Price, an assistant editor working on the Martha Washington and Family Papers, said the project began with the promise of creating a comprehensive edition of George Washington’s papers, which at the time meant publishing those papers written by him as well as to him.

“With our work spanning over 50 years, we have had the opportunity to reevaluate what comprehensive means and pull in additional perspectives that create a more balanced understanding of the lives and era of George and Martha Washington and their family,” Price said.

Since its establishment under the joint auspices of the University of Virginia and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, The Washington Papers project has broadened its scope to include materials focused on Washington’s financial activities, the papers of his wife Martha Washington, and his family.

The overall collection features 135,000 documents and draws more than 2,000 digital edition visits a month. As part of its anniversary celebration, It also has published a “50 Years of Editing” blog series which features posts on historical events such as the 1780 plot to kidnap George Washington. The Washington Papers project aims to complete a landmark comprehensive edition of its collection within the next 10 years.

To learn more about this week’s public anniversary events, visit gwpapers.virginia.edu.