Papers of the Founding Fathers

Founders Online has launched. The papers of six of the most important figures from America’s founding era—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin—are now accessible through this single free online source.

For more on the role of Documents Compass and Founders Online see About Early Access

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives, has signed a cooperative agreement with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, affiliated with the University of Virginia, to provide pre-publication access to 68,000 historical papers of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington that have not yet been published in authoritative documentary editions. The cooperative agreement provides up to $2.5 million for the project.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and its Documents Compass program is halfway through this three-year project. Documents Compass, a program specializing in documentary editing in the electronic age, is proofreading and digitizing existing transcriptions of the papers of the Founders of the Nation to make them available at Founders Online.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to make available to the public these very important historical documents in a timely and easily accessible manner,” says Rob Vaughan, president of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


With the publication of Founders Online the first group of over 21,000 Early Access documents from the Papers of James Madison and George Washington are now made available. Users can access both the published, annotated documents and the unpublished transcriptions through the Founders Online website.

Project Scholars

In addition to Documents Compass and Project Managers Laura Baker and William Kurtz, Founders Online work has been carried out by the following dedicated team of fifty-one individuals:
Alec Hickmott
Alli Villines
Amanda Thompson
Ananda Reed
Anna Keefe
Arya Burt
Ben Davison
Bill Kissell
Caitlin Morris
Carl Briggs
Christina Butler
Christine Gomola
Cody Perkins
Dena Radley
Donna Carty
Emily Sandberg
Greta Von Kirchmann
Jan Vogelgesang
Jeff Diehm
Jeff Vogelgesang
Jeff Zvengrowski
Jeffrey Villines
Jim Ambuske
John Conroy
John Terry
Katherine Evans
Katherine Zantow
Kathleen Murell
Kathy May
Kristen Lochrie
Margaret Lewis
Marian Matthews
Mark Hawking
Mary Ellen Hicks
Mary Mason Foukal
Michael Green
Michelle Sivilich
Mike Caires
Natasha Richter
Nic Wood
Nicholas Plank
Olga Revenko
Phil Pingeton
Rob Hewitt
Ryan Bibler
Sage Morghan
Simone Daleo
Sommers Draper
Steve Neumeister
Susan Spengler
Ted Keefe

Project Sponsors

Papers of the Founding Fathers has been possible through a generous grant by the NHPRC.