Peter S. Onuf

Peter S. Onuf, photo by Kristin Onuf

Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia and a Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies in Monticello.  A specialist in the history of the early American republic, Onuf was educated at Johns Hopkins University, where he received his A.B. in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1973, and has taught at Columbia University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Southern Methodist University before coming to Virginia in 1990.  In 2008-2009 Onuf was Harmsworth Professor of American History at the University of Oxford. In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Onuf’s work on Thomas Jefferson’s political thought, culminating in Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood and The Mind of Thomas Jefferson, grows out of earlier studies on the history of American federalism, foreign policy, and political economy.  He and co-author Annette Gordon-Reed have recently published Most Blessed of Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. With Ed Ayers, recently retired as President of University of Richmond, and his Virginia colleague Brian Balogh, Onuf is co-host of the public radio program “Backstory with the American History Guys” . Onuf and his wife Kristin now live in Portland and Winter Harbor, Maine.


selected bibliography

Most Blessed of Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (2016)
The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007)
Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (2000)

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online resources

Harvard Magazine reviews Most Blessed of Patriarchs
NYT reviews Most Blessed of Patriarchs
Backstory with the American History Guys

Video: Annette Gordon Reed and Peter S. Onuf at the Michelle Smith Lecture Series