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Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family
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Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Shannon Lanier is the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and African-American slave, Sally Hemings. In 1998, Lanier embarked on a journey to uncover the history behind his heritage. Told from the multiple perspectives of Jefferson’s descendants, Jefferson’s Children is the story of Lanier’s travels across the country to meet his relatives from both sides of the famil ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published 2000)
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Sara  (
This book was interesting to read, given that it was written in 2002, very soon after there began to be hard DNA evidence that Jefferson fathered children through his slave, Sally Hemings. The way the book discusses this now fact demonstrates that back then, this very idea was still extremely controversial. There was still a resistance from many Jefferson-Martha Jefferson descendants to accept this truth.

The book traces some current Sally and Martha descendants back to their roots, and intervie
Jul 23, 2016 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember hearing this story years ago on the Oprah show and while looking for books the other day found it. I am so glad I did. An absolutely fabulous book. The families of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings are brought together through oral history, DNA, rumor, innuendo, secrecy and some shame. This book examines their story though interviews by many cousins, young and old.
The only sadness is that the hope expressed when this book was published, that our racial tensions were easing, has turn
This is a very interesting book about Thomas Jefferson's legitimate and illegitimate families. It explores the controversy of the Sally Hemmings relationship through interviews with family members. Shannon Lanier is a descendant from the Sally Hemmings side of the family and wants to get to know all of his new cousins after the revelations about the relationship were announced and the family attended the reunion at Monticello. I found it fascinating to hear all the stories of this blended family ...more
Sunny Shore
This book was a highly rated book for any age group about the descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, who was a slave in his house for many years. We don't know if they were in love, but Jefferson supposedly fathered many of Hemings' children. The book is written by a direct descendeant of this relationship and interviews all the people who were direct descendants of both Jefferson's marriage and his relationship with Hemings' after his wife's untimely death. All of the family have me ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in American and/or Afro-American history
The author, a college student, wants to meet other descendants of Thomas Jefferson, black and white. So he travels around America making a pictoral essay of the Jefferson clan, which turns out to be a mirror of a blended America. Some folks embrace the Sally Hemmings descendants; others reject and/or deny them. The annual Jefferson family pinic on the grounds of Monticello doesn't want to admit the Hemmings descendants at first, but the author and his family are eventually accepted. In a larger ...more
May 18, 2012 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book on the heels of visiting the Jefferson: Paradox exhibit at the National Museum of American History. If you have never followed this story line of Sally Hemmings children with Jefferson, or even Hemmings parentage (Elizabeth Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law), I highly recommend you read this book and other modern writings about one of our nation's founding fathers. All men are not apparently created equal, and it is only through forensic evidence that Jeff ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Marlene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
The Hemings Jefferson story is interesting to me, like many blacks, I have wondered about my ancestors. As a light skin black person, I know there has to be white ancestors; but my very light skinned grandmother denies any white relatives. Now she is dead. We will never know. So I found this book interesting in that there are white people with my unique last name as well as black; and I have always thought some were the owners and some were slaves, thus the same last name.
The book showed dffere
Shannon Lanier is a descendant of Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. In 1999 the Hemmings were invited to the Monticello Family reunion because of the DNA findings that proved their familial relationship. But not everyone was welcomed with open arms. Shannon, interviewed different family members about their oral traditions and definitions of family.

Why I started this book: Someone checked this book in at the library and it grabbed my attention.

Why I finished it: I have always been interested i
Arlene Eisenbise
Jul 04, 2016 Arlene Eisenbise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During a visit to Monticello, I purchased this book. I wanted to learn more about Jefferson's two families. This was the perfect book to feed my curiosity as told by family members. The book confirmed my belief in the importance of providing oral or written histories for those who follow us.
Angela Gill
Apr 24, 2015 Angela Gill is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I just bought this book at Monticello. The ISBN is a later edition 2002. It is very interesting with many lovely photographs!
Jul 09, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Robyn
Classified in the library as "teen nonfiction," this is a valuable book for readers of all ages. Stories from members of the Jefferson and Hemings family, the discussion is so civil and adult, no blame or anger or hatefulness on either side. There are those who refuse to accept the evidence, or interpret it in different ways, but even those interviews are respectful of difference of opinion. I think if we could all approach race discussions (or discussions on any charged issue) this way, our cou ...more
Mrs. Rosie
Very interesting! A little confusing following family after family to come down to the truth. I believe the story of Thomas Jefferson having a "second" family with his slave (who was half-sister to his wife). I'm sure he loved her for who she was. Sad that they families had to "hide the family secret" for so many years!
Apr 25, 2008 Tori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mother gave me a signed copy of this book as a gift. The story of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings has fascinated me for a very long time. Add that to my interest in genetics, heritage, and tracing your family roots, and this book was pretty much a perfect gift for me. Lovely color pictures and great stories.
Lisa James
Jan 25, 2011 Lisa James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
VERY good read. I loved not only the WAY this family's story was presented from the modern day tracing the roots back, but I adored reading the stories the people this young man interviewed told from their own perspectives, & the best part was the PICTURES!!!!
Nov 13, 2009 Bart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genealogy is a passion of mine so I found this book interesting. It is a quick read. Short sketches on Jefferson descendants and their view on the Jefferson/Hemings relationship.
Aug 21, 2011 Rosemary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Current Woodson/Hemings/Randolph-Jefferson thoughts on the their mutual relationship. This book was published after their first meeting at Monticello.
Angelene Hanna
Such a fascinating story - chronicles the descendants of Thomas Jefferson, from both Sally Hemings and Martha Jefferson.
Feb 04, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am currently re-reading this book and it is making me wonder if it is not time for Oprah to revisit this family.
Feb 06, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The description on this book is great as an overview.
(spotlighted on CBS News Sunday Morning)
Apr 11, 2013 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is fascinating!!
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