Press/Journalists

John Jay Papers Added to Founders Online
Press Release · Thursday, September 17, 2020

Washington, DC

For press information, contact NHPRC Communications Director Keith Donohue at Keith.donohue@nara.gov. 

In celebration of Constitution Day, the National Archives National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), in collaboration with The University of Virginia (UVA) Press, is pleased to announce that the Selected Papers of John Jay have been added to Founders Online. Jay’s papers join  the fully-searchable database of records from George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. The nearly 2,000 Jay documents increase the total number of Founders Online items to more than 185,000. 

“Adding Jay to Founders Online on Constitution Day makes eminent sense,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, “given that Jay helped draft both the New York Constitution and five of the Federalist Papers that supported ratification of the Federal Constitution. Now students and researchers can easily learn what Jay thought and wrote about these and other milestones in early U.S. history.” 

Few leaders of the new American nation had more influence than John Jay (1745–1829) or could match his contributions in all three branches of government, at both state and national levels. A strong proponent of the Constitution, Jay was a major contributor to the Federalist Papers, arguing for ratification. He negotiated the 1794 “Jay Treaty” with Great Britain, and even served two terms as the governor of New York, but above all he is remembered as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. When President Washington appointed Jay, the court was a blank slate, and his papers provide a fascinating look at the creation of court procedure, much of which survives to this day.

Columbia University is home to a major collection of original Jay papers and copies of material drawn from archives throughout the world through the efforts of Dr. Richard Morris and his team. Two volumes of Jay papers appeared before Morris’s death in 1989. In 2005, Columbia launched a new project for a digital edition of the papers and a letterpress edition of The Selected Papers of John Jay under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth M. Nuxoll. The new addition of Jay’s papers to Founders Online includes five volumes published through mid-2020. Volume 6 will be added in late 2020, and Volume 7 is expected in mid-2021. The print edition is being published by the University of Virginia Press and is supported by the National Archives through the NHPRC.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives supports projects that promote access to America's historical records to encourage understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. The 15-member Commission includes representatives from all three branches of the Federal government as well as the leading archival and historical professional associations. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero is its Chairman, and Christopher Eck is the Executive Director. Since it was established in 1934 with the National Archives, the NHPRC has recommended 5,000 grants for preserving, publishing, and providing access to the nation’s historical documents. More online.

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This page was last reviewed on September 17, 2020.
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