Plano Reads: Jefferson’s Daughters

Read our review of Catherine Kerrison’s Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America, Second Tuesday Book Club’s May 12 pick.

You can join us to virtually discuss Jefferson’s Daughters on Tuesday, May 12, at 7:15 p.m. using Zoom. Register for this session by sending an email to Cathe Spencer or fill out your information on Zoom here.

Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison

Currently available as an eAudiobook from Overdrive or through Overdrive’s Libby app.

Summary from Overdrive: The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters–two white and free, one black and enslaved–and the divergent paths they forged in newly independent America…The richly interwoven story of three strong women and their fight to shape their own destinies sheds new light on human rights in America, and on the personal and political legacy of one of our most controversial Founding Fathers.


Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters come vividly to life in historian Catherine Kerrigan’s well-researched and elegantly written biography. Martha and Maria Jefferson married and lived privileged lives in early Virginia, while at age twenty-one, their enslaved half-sister Harriet Hemings left Monticello and her family behind for a life of freedom. The author’s attempts to discover Harriet’s hidden history as a free woman, probably in Washington City, makes up one of the most interesting chapters in this book. In Kerrison’s skilled hands, the three Jefferson sisters emerge from the long shadow of Thomas Jefferson’s life into their own complicated and fascinating histories.


Catherine Kerrison is Professor of History and a director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at Villanova University. Her research interests include the history of women during the American Revolution and in the early years of the United States.


If you would like to learn more about Thomas Jefferson, his daughters, and the Jefferson-Hemings family, consider these additional resources, all available now with your Plano library card.

eBooks and eAudiobooks available from Overdrive or the Libby app include American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, by Joseph J. Ellis, and the novels Monticello: A Daughter and her Father, by Sally Cabot Gunning and America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

Or stream one of these documentary films from Kanopy: Thomas Jefferson: A View from the Mountain, or Ken Burns’ two-part series, Thomas Jefferson.

Monticello, Jefferson’s house and plantation, is near Charlottesville, Virginia, and has a detailed and interesting website at monticello.org. It currently offers livestreams, video tours, exhibits, and information for visitors of all ages.

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