Memory, Reason and Imagination


Books once belonging to Thomas Jefferson, our most bibliophilic president, have turned up at Washington University in St. Louis.

The books were part of Jefferson’s retirement library, so-called because he started the collection after donating 6,700 books to the Library of Congress in 1815. By the time of his death in 1826, Jefferson had already accumulated 1,600 books. According to the New York Times, he “cataloged all 1,600 books according to ‘the faculties of the human mind,’ like memory, reason and imagination.” Scholars are already poring over handwritten notes in the margins.

Jill Haberkern has lived in a one-room house made of tombstones and a farmhouse with a walrus head. She currently lives in Berkeley, California, with neither. Her writing has appeared in the Mid-American Review. More from this author →