Andrew Jackson's Letters and Papers
Thousands of Andrew Jackson’s papers survive, including letters, military orders, presidential and other government records, and business and legal papers. Most of these are held by libraries, museums, archives, and private collectors around the world. The Library of Congress in Washington, DC, has the largest single collection with over 20,000 items. Many official records are in the National Archives. The Hermitage owns about 300 items, and the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville holds a small collection of Jackson letters as well. Because of their fragility and value, access to original Jackson manuscripts is often highly restricted.
Andrew Jackson Papers Project
Since 1971, the Andrew Jackson Papers project in the Department of History at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has been working to make all of Jackson’s papers publicly available. The project has collected photocopies of Jackson’s papers from all sources and preserved their images on a microfilm series which major research libraries have purchased. The Papers of Andrew Jackson: Guide and Index to the Microfilm Editions, published by Scholarly Resources in 1987, gives the location on microfilm for every item and identifies it by the name of Jackson’s correspondent and by date. Anyone who wants to know if Jackson exchanged letters with a particular person should first check this publication. Its pages may be viewed online below.View publication
Full Texts Available
The Jackson Papers project is now publishing the full texts of Jackson’s letters and other papers in a chronological series of volumes entitled The Papers of Andrew Jackson. When finished, it will provide a complete documentary record of Jackson’s entire life and career. Nine volumes covering Jackson’s life through 1831 have so far been produced. An additional volume, The Legal Papers of Andrew Jackson, covers his career as a lawyer and judge. All of these are available for purchase from the publisher, University of Tennessee Press, or on loan from libraries. In addition, the volumes are now online in searchable format within the American Founding Era Collection, produced by the University of Virginia Press’s Rotunda imprint. This database is accessible by paid subscription or free for short-term use at http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/founders/JKSN.html.
For the years that the Jackson Papers project has not yet reached, there is an older seven-volume collection, Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, edited by John Spencer Bassett and published from 1926 to 1935. This edition runs to the end of Jackson’s life but contains a much narrower selection of documents.
Those interested in consulting Jackson’s papers should check with a nearby major library to see if it owns (or can borrow) The Papers of Andrew Jackson volumes or a subscription to the Rotunda online edition. The Hermitage regrets that because of staff limitations we cannot research the papers except to answer specific questions. Likewise the Jackson Papers project may not reply to queries that can be answered by consulting the volumes themselves.
Publication of The Papers of Andrew Jackson is supported by the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Historical Commission, and two federal agencies, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Sam B. Smith and Harriet Owsley founded the project and produced its first volume. Harold D. Moser edited the next five volumes and the microfilm. The current editor and project director is Daniel Feller, who is also Professor of History at the University of Tennessee.