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June 14, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Sally Hemings and The Jefferson Brothers

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is preparing for a massive event, launching their new exhibit of Sally Hemings’ quarters at Monticello.  On the program. . . .

On June 16, in conjunction with national Juneteenth events, Monticello will unveil exhibitions and newly restored spaces, including the opening of the South Wing and The Life of Sally Hemings exhibit. This landmark conclusion of a major restoration initiative at Monticello will also commemorate 25 years of the Getting Word oral history project. Monticello will welcome the largest reunion of descendants of Monticello’s enslaved families in modern history and host a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln and generously loaned by David M. Rubenstein.

For complete details about the event, click here: LOOK CLOSER

In conjunction with the new exhibit, the Foundation has announced, “Monticello Affirms Thomas Jefferson Fathered Children with Sally Hemings.”  Their statement begins:

The issue of Jefferson’s paternity has been the subject of controversy for at least two centuries, ranging from contemporary newspaper articles in 1802 (when Jefferson was President) to scholarly debate well into the 1990s. It is now the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s view that the issue is a settled historical matter.

Click here for the full statement: “Monticello Affirms Thomas Jefferson Fathered Children with Sally Hemings.”


Occasionally, I am asked, “Couldn’t Randolph Jefferson be the father of Sally’s son Eston Hemings?” Based on the DNA evidence, it is possible.  Based on historic evidence, it is highly improbable.

In my essay, “A Most Valuable Citizen: A Profile of Randolph Jefferson,” (Magazine of Albemarle County History, 2011), I addressed this question at length.  Curious to learn more?

You can purchase an issue at the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society’s online store:

Magazine of Albemarle County History (2011)

To read much more about the life and times of Randolph Jefferson, consult The Jefferson Brothers (Slate River Press, 2012).



Leave a Comment
  1. Mary Roy / Jun 14 2018 10:01 am

    Dear Joanne,

    As a voice crying in the wilderness, I believe (as does Dr. Ken Wallenborn (Charlottesville) who paid for a DNA study to be done) that Monticello is in error. Dr. Wallenborn’s DNA expert prepared a paper refuting Monticello’s claim that Monticello management chose to ignore.

    Kind regards,

    Mary Roy Dawson Edwards (formally on the senior staff at Monticello)

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 14 2018 11:34 am

      Mary Roy, You are not alone. Monticello’s stance will result in a heated discussion, once again. Joanne

  2. Joanne Yeck / Jun 14 2018 7:10 am

    Larry, Thanks as always for your support! Joanne

  3. Larry Lamb / Jun 14 2018 7:08 am

    A great read for all who like Jefferson History.Lots of research and new information on the family.

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