Columbia Receives NEH Grant to Digitize Papers from the John Jay Collection

April 2000 The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $150,000 to the Columbia University Libraries to produce digital images of approximately one-quarter of the estimated 13,000 papers of the Founding Father, and first Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay.

The John Jay Image Database was planned under the direction of a committee of scholars presided over by Richard L. Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History. When completed, it will provide research access to the more than 108,000 pages of correspondence, reports, diaries and related material gathered between 1960 and 1995 to support the publication of letterpress volumes of selected papers of Jay, edited by the late Professor Richard Morris. The database will be searchable by recipient name, date, holding institution and accession number, and will include in some cases, abstracts of content as well as images.

"We are delighted to be able to make available to the general public this vast body of primary sources for the study of a critical period in American history," said Elaine Sloan, vice president for Information Services and University librarian. Jean Ashton, director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, who will manage the project, added, "We anticipate use by scholars and historians who have not in the past had consistent access to records of the full range of Jay's activities and thought."

The John Jay Papers digital project is scheduled for completion in 2002. While it is underway, the Libraries will seek additional funding to supplement the National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and will also pursue support for the publication of further volumes of selected letters of John Jay. "Professor Morris oversaw the publication of two volumes of his intended series," said Ashton. "We are exploring ways to bring the series to a close by documenting Jay's final years in New York."