Collection includes handwritten notes from the founding father

Several dozen lost books belonging to Thomas Jefferson have been discovered at Washington University in St. Louis.

According to The Associated Press (link), the rare books, which included handwritten notes from the third president of the United States, were uncovered among 3,000 that were donated to the school in 1880 following the death of Jefferson's granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge.

Erin Davies, Washington University's rare books curator, commented on the revelation, saying, "It is so out of the blue and pretty amazing."

The discovery shocked academics because there was never any suggestion that any of the collection had belonged to Jefferson, but it has been revealed that in 1828, two and a half years after the president's death, the contents of his 1,600-book library was sold to settle debts.

The university uncovered the books, as reported by The New York Times, after they were contacted by Endrina Tay, project manager for the Thomas Jefferson's Libraries project at Monticello, a National Historic Landmark where the former president lived near Charlottesville, Va. Tay has been in working on the project since 2004 trying to reconstruct the collection.

Historians and librarians are now trawling through other books at the university, hoping to unearth more volumes previously owned by the founding father.