In the Course of Human Events, Still Unpublished

Publication: The Washingont Post

Author: Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

12/15/2007 - More than 200 years after they were written, huge portions of the papers of America's founding fathers are still decades away from being published, prompting a distinguished group of scholars and federal officials to pressure Congress to speed the process along.

Teams of experts have been laboring since Harry Truman was president in the late 1940s to compile and annotate the letters, correspondence and documents of George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. About $58 million has been spent in the past 30 years alone.

Yet, according to a study by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Washington papers will not be finished until 2023, with 54 volumes published and 35 more to go.


An assortment of highbrow lobbyists -- led by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and including presidential historian David McCullough, the librarian of Congress and the archivist of the United States -- have been trying to persuade lawmakers to allocate more funds for the effort, known as the Founding Fathers Project. They also want Congress to demand that the papers, as well as the scholarship that accompanies them, be much more widely distributed, especially online.

Read the full article In the Course of Human Events, Still Unpublished on The Washington Post Web site.

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