Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist

Virginia Jefferson Trist Cookbook

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[Library Title: Papers of Trist and Burke Family Members [manuscript] 1818-1916]

Manuscript Location
University of Virginia Library, Special Collections
Holding Library Call No.
MSS 5385f
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
United States ➔ Virginia
Date of Composition
ca. 1820-1882
This book is entirely in the hand of Thomas Jefferson's granddaughter, Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist. Containing almost three hundred recipes, this book is by far the most substantial source of recipes used by the family of Thomas Jefferson.

Sources for the recipes include cooks and servants who worked at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's planter home) and in Washington, including James Hemings (1765-1801), Jefferson's enslaved cook, and Étienne Lemaire (d. 1817), Jefferson's second maître d’hôtel at the President's House. Some recipes are attributed simply to "Monticello"; others to Jefferson family members, including Martha Jefferson Randolph, Ellen Wayles Harrison, and Rosella Trist; others to persons outside the Jefferson family; and some to published cookbooks, including the famed The Virginia House-Wife (1824), which was authored by Mary Randolph, herself a Jefferson relation. The sources of many other recipes are unidentified. Some of the recipes were recorded well after Jefferson's death, in 1826.

Some of the recipes in this collection were published in Marie Kimball’s Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book (1938). See also in this database Martha Jefferson Trist Burke Recipes, compiled by Virginia Jefferson Trist's daughter, and Septimia Randolph Meikleham Recipe Book, which was kept by Virginia Trist's younger sister.

Born at Monticello in 1801, Virginia Randolph Jefferson was the sixth child of Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph (1772-1836). She married Nicholas Philip Trist at Monticello in 1824. The couple had six children. Nicholas Trist served in various government posts from 1828 into the late 1840s, including consul to Cuba, where the family lived from 1834 to 1841. Nicholas Trist was dismissed from government service by President Polk, bringing the couple to near financial ruin. To alleviate their situation, Virginia and Nicholas's sisters attempted to run a school for young ladies, but it failed, adding further to their debts. The couple subsequently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. After her husband's death, in 1874, Virginia lived with one of her three children until her death in 1882.

Although on deposit at the University of Virginia Library, this book is owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. To access it, written permission must be obtained from the foundation's curatorial department