September 23, 1999
The National Archives and Texas Donors to Make Jefferson's Handwritten Messages Available to Texas Schools
Washington, D.C. . . Students in Texas will have the opportunity to read Thomas Jefferson's handwritten words on the great issues and events of his Presidency. Officials from the National Archives and Records Administration, Frito-Lay, Inc., JCPenney Direct Marketing Services, and the Harold Simmons Foundation in Dallas, Texas, unveiled a new partnership to provide realistic color facsimiles of the Jefferson documents as part of an innovative educational resource. Thanks to generous grants from the three private donors through the initiative of Representative and Mrs. Sam Johnson, 1,400 Texas middle schools have received their copies of The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809 in time for the new 1999-2000 school year.
The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson provides students with a unique opportunity to study unpublished documents from the historical records of the United States Senate and House of Representatives maintained at the National Archives' Center for Legislative Archives. "While experiencing the thrill of reading documents nearly two hundred years old," observes Dr. Michael L. Gillette, director of the Center, "students will be challenged to interpret the documents' historical meaning and significance from today's perspective."
Leading historians and history teachers were consulted at each stage of the resource's development, from selecting documents to crafting instructional materials and objectives, to produce a resource that complements standard high school curricula and adds another dimension to the study of history, government, and language arts. Historical essays provide context for the twenty-four pages of facsimile documents. Lesson plans and other instructional materials offer suggestions for using the materials in the classroom.
With private-sector funding obtained by the Foundation for the National Archives, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson has been distributed to schools in eight states and the District of Columbia, and now Texas. Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provided major support for the project.
The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson is the first in a series of educational resources produced by the National Archives' Center for Legislative Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives. The second, Our Mothers Before Us: Women and Democracy, 1789 - 1920, has also been distributed through the foundation with private-sector funding to schools.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.