Two University of Delaware graduate students recently stumbled upon a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson while sifting through thousands of documents and other items donated to the university's library.
Jefferson sent the letter, dated 1808, as a condolence correspondence upon the death of another patriot, John Dickinson.
The letter, addressed to Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, of Wilmington, Delaware was sent in response to an earlier letter by Bringhurst informing then-president Jefferson of the death of Dickinson, a delegate to the Continental Congress, a signer of the Articles of Confederation, a president of Delaware and an architect of the Constitution.
"Thomas Jefferson is one of the reasons that I got into history," said History graduate student Amanda Daddona, one of the students who discovered the letter. "It was quite an exciting day and I had no idea I'd be finding that when I came into work that morning."
Daddona and fellow student, Matt Davis, are cataloging the archives of the Rockwood Museum, a collection that was recently donated to the university by New Castle County.
The Rockwood collection is huge and diverse, containing thousands of documents, maps, letters, photographs, albums, diaries, deeds, business records, ephemera and other items from the 17th century until the late 1970s. It may be assumed that many if not most of the older items in the collection have not been examined for several decades or longer.
"Processing a Special Collection is a process of discovery," observed Susan Brynteson, Vice Provost and May Morris Director of Libraries. "What a thrill for the graduate students who discovered this during their work at the University of Delaware Library! A memory always to be cherished."
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