Site Launches to Host Founders' Writings

Will host hundreds of thousands of documents

John Trumbull painting, The Declaration of Independence / Wikimedia Commons
June 13, 2013

A website that gives free access to the writings of several United States Founding Fathers was launched Thursday afternoon at the National Archives.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives, and the University of Virginia Press started the project.

The project emerged after Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in February 2008, when Congress asked the National Archives to make letters and notes from the founders freely available online.

Founders Online will allow users to read the papers of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Leaders of the editorial teams for each founder on the site attended the launch event along with University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan and NHPRC executive director Kathleen Williams.

Speakers stressed the importance of public access to information, saying the founders would be proud.

The site will make it easier for people to use and access information no matter their location, Williams said.

Founders Online will host around 175,00 documents at its completion. Currently, it hosts around 120,000.

Cynthia Kierner, a history professor at George Mason University, spoke about the impact the site could have on high school and college students.

She ended her speech with an anecdote, saying she used to tell her students they would not be able to finish their projects at home, on their computer, in their underwear.

"Now, you kind of can," she said.

Published under: Congress