Washington's Letters at UVa

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

June 9, 2005

When you think of Charlottesville, Thomas Jefferson is probably the president that comes to mind. But he is not the only one that has memories here.

Looking into the life of, or better yet the diary of someone could be quite interesting.

"It can be a lot of fun, looking at other people's letters," said Philader Chase, Senior Editor of "The Papers of George Washington."

Letters dating back hundreds of years, written by or to one of the most known names in American history: George Washington.

"It takes a unique kind of person to want to do these types of projects," added Chase. Making Phil a very unique person. He's worked on the papers of George Washington since the beginning.

"I came here on a one year grant," he explained. "And I stayed on for another year and another year until its now been about 32 years that I've been here."

Alderman Library on the University of Virginia grounds is where for 30 years, research and writing on the papers of George Washington has taken place. It houses the most complete collection of George Washington's letters. Copying all this information in the beginning wasn't so easy, but with new technology, things have gotten better.

"Nowadays we often get our images sent to us in digital form by email, which makes it even more convenient," Chase said.

More than 135,000 letters to or from Washington are located in Alderman Library on the grounds of UVa. Researchers are working hard to get the documents located there both published and on the internet.

"Any 6th grade student who wants to write a paper on George Washington will be able to go there and find a document that they can quote, or that will help them better understand Washington and what he was about," said Theodore Crackel, Editor-in-Chief.

With 53 additions already published and several more to come, Washington's legacy of the first president of the United States should live on for centuries to come.

The latest volume to the papers was presented to George W. Bush in the Oval Office, April 29.

An electronic edition of the published volumes are in the works. Researchers are hoping to have them available on the Internet by 2007.

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