The Lee Family Digital Archive (LFDA), now housed at Stratford Hall Historic Preserve, is an online repository of the collected papers of the Lee Family of Virginia. When complete, the LFDA will consist of a comprehensive annotated edition of all the known papers of the immigrant founder Richard Lee (c.1602-1663/4) and his lines of offspring (7-8 generations). This rich documentary legacy, spanning roughly the first three centuries of American history (from c.1640 to c.1920), is offered to the public free of charge for research and teaching purposes. Initial support for the LFDA at Washington & Lee University was provided by the Lee-Jackson Educational Foundation, the Society of the Lees of Virginia, and the Harlan R. Crow Library.

Work was begun on the LFDA in 2006 under the direction of Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., who formerly worked on the George Washington Papers at the University of Virginia. In October 2014, the LFDA was transferred from Washington & Lee University to Stratford Hall, where it will be maintained and expanded, through the generosity of The Ratcliffe Foundation.

In order to carry out its mission and to enhance the experience of its users, the LFDA depends on the inclusion of the following basic building blocks:

  • Genealogy of the Lee Family
  • Chronology or timeline of Lee Family members
  • Calendar of Lee Family papers
  • Digital facsimile images of all Lee Family documents
  • Digital transcriptions of all Lee Family documents
  • Biographical database
  • Exhaustive bibliography
  • Annotation of documents
  • Digitization of related secondary sources (e.g. Douglas Southall Freeman’s R. E. Lee)
  • Online exhibits and interpretive essays

The LFDA is a working digital archive, and, as such, changes almost daily. The most important part of its mission, of course, is to provide digital “preservation and access” to the papers of the Lee Family of Virginia, making it possible, when complete, to read from anywhere in the world virtually every Lee Family document known to survive. It is also hoped that as an online resource the LFDA can serve as a model for how to create and disseminate historical documentary editions in the future.