In the 1970s and ’80s, the Papers of Andrew Jackson project canvassed libraries, archives, newspapers, books, and private manuscript collections for documents authored by or addressed to Andrew Jackson. The dates and recipients/authors of the thousands of documents yielded by that search were then compiled into a comprehensive “Guide and Index” in 1987 and a 39-reel microfilm edition was produced providing images of all documents not at that time available in the Library of Congress’s Jackson Papers collection or in National Archives microfilm publications. Overlapping that work, the project commenced publishing a series of chronologically-ordered, printed volumes that contain printed transcriptions of the most important Jackson documents and calendar descriptions of all others. Volume 1 of that series (covering the years 1770–1803) appeared in 1980, and Volume 12 (covering 1834) is scheduled to appear in early 2023.
Though our preliminary document search concluded in the 1980s, new Jackson documents continue to be discovered. The advent over the last few decades of digital book and newspaper archives, the availability of more and more archival finding aids online, and the aggregation of manuscript-dealer and auction-house inventories into centralized databases, have each had the effect of bringing to light Jackson documents that had eluded our initial search. Unfortunately, many of these documents were discovered too late to have appeared in their proper volume of the Papers of Andrew Jackson. For example, the Papers volumes covering Jackson’s War of 1812 career, which appeared in 1984 and 1991, will not contain any new Jackson documents found since then—neither the physical volumes (for obvious reasons), nor the project’s digital Rotunda edition of those volumes, which have not been updated to account for new material.
After the completion of the series’ last volume, the project intends to compile a supplement providing access to all Jackson documents found too late to have appeared in their proper volume. In the meantime, the project has opted to make public a handful of document finds that strike the editorial staff as of special historical importance.
To Daniel Smith, December 18, 1796