Author Archives: Jennifer E. Steenshorne, Ph.D., Associate Editor, The Papers of John Jay

John Jay in the Junto

From my colleague Robb Haberman:
Check out this interview with Dora Petherbridge, curator at the National Library of Scotland on the Junto blog:
The NLS has the letters/diaries of Henrietta Marchant (1751-1828) who provides the following description of Governor Jay:
His eye is penetrating, his conversation sensible & intelligent; his deportment grave &, though his Political Character is firm & decided, there seems to be a general indecision in his manner of expressing his sentiments.
Good stuff!

NEH Grant!

Rare Book and Manuscript Library Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for the Papers of John Jay

NEW YORK, September 5, 2013 –

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is pleased to announce the receipt of a $175,000 Scholarly Editions grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to the Selected Papers of John Jay, a publication project sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML). The 21-month grant supplements funding by Columbia University Libraries/Information Services and the National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The grant will support the publication of volumes 4 (1785-1788), 5 (1789-1795), and 6 (1795-1829) of the papers of John Jay (1745-1829), a member of the Continental Congress, secretary for foreign affairs, first Chief Justice of the United States, and governor of New York. The grant provides for a new associate editor position to advance editorial work on the later volumes in this series.  The project is part of a larger campaign at Columbia to bring greater attention to Columbia alumnus Jay’s many accomplishments.

“This grant will provide us the staff level and expertise needed to explore fully Jay's contributions as United States Chief Justice and Governor of New York and as a religious leader and social reformer and bring the edition close to completion,” said Dr. Elizabeth M. Nuxoll, editor of The Selected Papers of John Jay.

The Selected Papers of John Jay is a multivolume scholarly edition of Jay’s papers currently being produced by a team of scholars at Columbia for publication by the University of Virginia Press. The edition will consist of seven volumes of a wide-ranging selection of the most significant and interesting public and private documents and letters, written or received by Jay, annotated and interspersed with commentary.

The edition is designed to revise and complete work begun in the late 1950s by Richard B. Morris, an eminent Jay scholar and Columbia University professor, who supplemented the major collection of original Jay Papers at Columbia with copies of Jay documents secured from archives throughout the world. Morris and his staff published two volumes covering the era of the American Revolution and began work on a projected two additional volumes before his untimely death.

The current project, which began in 2004, has published three volumes to date, the third of which was released in May 2012 and covers Jay’s role as peace negotiator. The volumes serve as a guide to the Papers of John Jay website, an image database funded by the NEH launched in 2003. This website provides access to images of more than 20,000 pages of Jay and Jay-related documents, and is free and available to the public.


Yesterday was the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the treaty that ended the American Revolution.

Volume 3 of the Selected Papers of John Jay (UVA Press) covers the negotiations that ended the war, showing the complicated process that is diplomacy, a process often ignored.

The NHPRC supports the work of three of the American negotiators for peace: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (; the Papers of John Jay ( and the Papers of John Adams ( Of course, you can read all about the Treaty itself at the National Archives "Our Documents" site at and discover what the rest of the Founders thought about the peace at Founders Online (

John Jay Ide, Spy

John Jay's great-grandson, John Jay Ide, was not only an architect and art collector. He was an aviation pioneer and instrumental in gathering intelligence on the Nazi's aviation program during the 1930s. Read historian Roger D. Launius's fascinating account of JJI's exploits here.

On this day in 1789. . .

George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States under the new constitution. Surprisingly, John Jay, the first Chief Justice did not perform the swearing in ceremony. Rather, the New York State Chancellor Robert R. Livingston had this honor. Howerver, Jay was present for the ceremony and the festivities that followed.