Vanderbilt Libraries present ‘Thomas Jefferson and His Books’

Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, and Mark Dimunation, who directed the reconstruction of Thomas Jefferson’s Collection at the Library of Congress, will come together Sept. 30 at Vanderbilt University’s Central Library for a discussion moderated by John Seigenthaler.

Jon Meacham (credit: Gaspar Triangle)

“Thomas Jefferson and His Books” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library’s Community Room, located at 419 21st Ave. S. The program is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis. Video of the event will be available later at

“We are very fortunate to host this conversation with two of the preeminent experts on Thomas Jefferson along with one of the nation’s most highly respected journalists and First Amendment advocates serving as moderator,” said Connie Vinita Dowell, dean of libraries.

Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose book on Jefferson was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and also made numerous other “best of the year” critics’ lists, is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt. He is teaching an undergraduate political science course called The Fate of the Republican Party and will moderate two Chancellor’s Lecture Series events later this fall.

Meacham is executive editor and executive vice president at Random House and a contributing editor to Time. In addition, he is a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.


Dimunation, as chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, is responsible for the development and management of the largest collection of rare books in North America. He gave a talk at Vanderbilt’s Central Library last year called “Forged in Fire: The Jefferson Collection and the Origins of the Library of Congress.”

Jefferson, who deeply valued books and learning, offered to sell his collection, at that time the largest private book collection available in North America, to Congress. It was to replace the congressional library that the British destroyed when they burned the U.S. Capitol during the War of 1812. Although some in Congress criticized the Jefferson Collection for its wide variety of topics and books in foreign languages, Jefferson defended its broad scope, stating, “…there is in fact no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.”


Seigenthaler, a journalist and former editor and publisher of The Tennessean, founded the First Amendment Center with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment rights and values. The former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University hosts the signature WNPT program “A Word on Words,” in which he interviews renowned novelists, historians, journalists and more.

For more information, email Celia Walker or call 615-343-4701.