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Fifty Years of The Washington Papers: A Historical Overview

By William M. Ferraro, Senior Associate Editor
October 19, 2018

Virginia state archivist William J. Van Schreeven and University of Virginia president Edgar J. Shannon, Jr., played critical (yet now-overlooked) roles in founding The Washington Papers. In a proposal dated Oct. 18, 1966, Van Shreeven called for the publication of a comprehensive edition of the papers of George Washington. Not only was there a need for this sort of project (previous editions contained only Washington’s outgoing correspondence or selected incoming letters), but the American Revolutionary War Bicentennial promised interest and a favorable funding environment. Picking up on the idea, Shannon formed a committee in January 1967 to explore the venture.

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