From its creation in 1923, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, has always placed great emphasis on scholarship. From the 1920s through the mid-1950s, Fiske and Marie Kimball (chairman of Monticello's restoration committee and its first curator, respectively) were well-known for their meticulous documentary research. Their successor, James A. Bear, Jr. (Monticello's first full-time curator), spent decades compiling and transcribing sources into his famous "black notebooks," including visitor accounts, chronologies, unpublished letters, and land records.

In 1985, Virginia Commonwealth University professor Daniel P. Jordan took up the Director's mantle. Under Jordan, Monticello expanded its vision of what a historic house site could be. He advanced the scholarly program that led to the establishment of the ICJS at Kenwood in 1994, under a co-operative agreement with the University of Virginia. ICJS grew to include research, archaeology, education, scholarly programs, publications, the Getting Word African-American Oral History Project, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, the Jefferson Library, and DAACS.

Black and white photo of a man wearing glasses sitting at a desk and smiling at the camera

"So from the very beginning, that was a[n] emphasis...that we were going to do things in a scholarly way. So that influence was very strong."

- Daniel P. Jordan, oral history interview, 3 August 2023