Director’s Letter

Thank you for your interest in our NEH workshop “Thomas Jefferson and Community Life at Monticello and the University of Virginia.” Our workshop will feature extensive site visits to Monticello and the Jeffersonian architecture of the University of Virginia, both World Heritage sites ( At both sites, we will meet with some of the foremost scholars on Thomas Jefferson as well as examine textual, architectural and archaeological evidence of his life as both a public figure and private individual. Through our discussions and explorations, we will consider the seeming contradictions between Jefferson’s public pronouncements as a champion of liberty and private behavior as a slave owner.  His meticulous records of daily life at Monticello and the University of Virginia as well as the architectural evidence will allow us to consider the daily life of the larger communities at each of these institutions – both enslaved and free, both male and female. Extensive amounts of these materials, both textual and visual, are now accessible digitally and can be brought into the classroom as a means of exploring primary sources and hearing the voices of early American society.

My interest in architectural history and the use of digital resources is longstanding. I have been on the faculty of the architectural history department at the University of Virginia for 25 years and am currently serving as department chair for the second time. In 2012-13 I held an Academy of Teaching Fellowship, which enabled me to design and lead a faculty program on integrating the use of technology into the classroom to enable undergraduate students to learn and use new digital tools. I have also conducted numerous workshops on pedagogy and in 2002 led an NEH summer seminar for teachers entitled: “Architectural Inheritances.”

Together with my colleagues from Monticello and the University of Virginia, we will spend our week together examining the diverse evidence of community life in Jefferson’s times and debating its meaning. I look forward to reading your application.


Lisa Reilly, FSA
Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Architectural History
Joint Graduate Program in Art & Architectural History