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George Washington’s Books on Display in New Exhibit to Coincide with the Opening of George Washington’s Presidential Library

Tue, 09/03/2013

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2013     
Digital images available

Media Contact: 
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203


George Washington’s Books on Display in New Exhibit

to Coincide with the Opening of George Washington’s Presidential Library

“Take Note! George Washington the Reader” Opens September 27

MOUNT VERNON, VA – George Washington’s Mount Vernon opens Take Note! Washington the Reader, a special new exhibition featuring more than 86 Washington books, letters, and objects on September 27. Take Note! Washington the Reader will invite visitors to step into Washington’s 18th-century world of books and ideas, look over the first president’s shoulder, and read the words that he read, took notes from, and recommended to others. The exhibition opening coincides with that of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, a 45,000 square-foot presidential library for the first president, providing an opportunity for the public to celebrate the beginning of a new era in Washington scholarship. 

“Visitors often think of George Washington as a man of action, but behind the rebel and the leader was a critical, inquisitive reader,” said Mount Vernon curator Susan P. Schoelwer. “In this exhibit, we’re thrilled to display some incredible and rarely-seen Washington books, notes, and letters that help us get inside his mind and begin to map the intellectual networks of which he was a part.”

Through January 12, 2014, more than 86 objects on display in the F.M. Kirby Foundation Gallery offer an unprecedented look at George Washington as a vibrant intellectual, a facet of Washington’s character that is often overshadowed. Highlights of the show include Washington’s copy of A View of the Conduct of the Executive by James Monroe, a book bearing more annotations in Washington’s hand than any other surviving work, on loan from the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Also featured in the exhibition is Washington’s English translation of Don Quixote that he purchased in 1787, while in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention.

Visitors to the exhibition will discover fresh perspectives of early America’s “indispensable man,” – from the nature of his early education and the underpinnings of his thoughts as a soldier, gentleman, farmer, and statesman, to the enlightened projects and debates in which he participated in his final years.

Opening on September 27, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will feature a special collection of Washington’s books, manuscripts, and archival materials, conserved and made available to researchers for the first time. The $104 million scholarly retreat is destined to be a George Washington ‘think tank’ and will maintain Washington’s importance and relevance in a fast-changing world.  The Library’s campaign to raise funds will continue through summer 2013. 

Exhibition Publication

To accompany Mount Vernon’s new exhibition, Take Note! George Washington the Reader, the Estate has created a 172-page glossy softbound guide. “Take Note! George Washington the Reader,” authored by Mount Vernon associate curator Amanda C. Isaac, brings to view George Washington’s lifelong quest for education — from his early formal schooling to the research he did to excel as a soldier, farmer, and president — providing an intriguing glimpse into the mind of the man who would become the Father of our Nation.

In this magnificently illustrated guide, discover the works that instructed, inspired, angered, and entertained him, from the revolutionary rhetoric of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and the comic exploits of Don Quixote, to the biting critique of James Monroe’s A View of the Conduct of the Executive. “Take Note! George Washington the Reader” offers fresh insight on the man who Thomas Jefferson once hailed as an example of American genius.  This book is available beginning September 10 in the Shops at Mount Vernon or Retails for $19.95.


About George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital. 

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $17; senior citizens, $16; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $8; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon. For more information about Mount Vernon, please visit