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What is the LFDA?

The Lee Family Digital Archive is long-term effort to create a comprehensive online edition of the collected papers of the Lee Family of Virginia. See About the Project for a more comprehensive description of the LFDA.

Where is the LFDA located?

The LFDA is located in the Jessie Ball duPont Memorial Library at Stratford Hall. Stratford Hall is located on Rt. 214, just off Rt. 3 east, about 45 miles from Fredericksburg, Virginia. To get driving directions online, use the address: Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Road, Stratford, VA 22520.

Can I visit the LFDA?

Yes, visitors to the Lee Family Digital Archive offices are welcome, either to conduct Lee-related historical research or just to see the duPont Library. Appointments are required since staff may be off-site using other collections. The LFDA office is open on Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please make an appointment by emailing

Does the LFDA own historical manuscripts or maintain its own library?

The Lee Family Digital Archive owns no original manuscripts. However, the duPont Library, in which the archive is housed, is the repository for Stratford Hall’s collections of manuscripts, rare books, photographs, Robert E. Lee Memorial Association archives and research collections.

How is the LFDA funded?

The Lee Family Digital Archive is funded by grants and donor gifts from institutions and individuals. Stratford Hall provides in-kind support and administers all funds.

Does the LFDA accept donations, and are the gifts tax exempt?

Yes, donations are welcome, and tax exempt to the extent allowed by law. All gifts are acknowledged with a letter of receipt by Stratford Hall’s Development Office. For additional information on contributing to the project, contact the Stratford Hall Development Office at 804-493-8038, ext. 8919, or email us at . To donate to the LFDA online, please go to and put LFDA in the “how did you hear about this?” box at the bottom.

How many people does the LFDA employ?

The Lee Family Digital Archive is led by a historian and documentary editor who also serves as the project director. The project also employs student interns.

What type of content is on the LFDA's website?

The Lee Family Digital Archive’s website contains the personal and public papers of the Lee Family of Virginia. These papers include letters written by and to the Lees as well as deeds, wills, essays, and books authored by Lees. The website also contains secondary source material written about the Lees, including books, M.A. and Ph.D. theses, essays and articles, and public addresses. The website will also contain images and audio recordings.

Does the LFDA copyright its content?

The Lee Family Digital Archive and Stratford Hall holds copyright to any content on its website that is not in the public domain or used by the non-exclusive permission of the copyright holder. Much of the LFDA’s content, however, is not protected under current copyright laws and has entered into the public domain.

How does the LFDA generate its website content?

The Lee Family Digital Archive, like all modern scholary editions of historic and literary papers, finds its documents in many places. Most are located in traditional institutional repositories like libraries, museums, and historical societies. Some are in private hands, owned by family members or manuscript collectors. Some have been published before in books, magazines, or other documentary editions, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Upon finding copies of documents, they are transcribed, proofread, marked up with computer coding, and uploaded to the website.

What is the LFDA have an editorial policy?

The Lee Family Digital Archive seeks to present documents according to modern scholarly standards as advocated for historical editors by the National Publications and Records Commission and by the Association for Documentary Editing. This means texts are transcribed as literal as possible, with punctuation, capitalization, paragraphing, and spelling retained as they appear in the original document. Angle brackets ‹› are used to indicate illegible, mutilated, or conjectural material, and editorial insertions or corrections in the text appear in square brackets []. The structure and layout of documents is occasionally altered in order to facilitate a clear-text transcription convention rather than a diplomatic convention. Editorial emendations are governed by the Chicago Manual of Style.

Does the LFDA use proprietary computer technology?

The Lee Family Digital Archive is committed to placing its content online on a permanent basis, so it uses open and non-proprietary standards and interfaces wherever possible. For text-based content, this means the use of XML (Extensible Markup Language), developed by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in 1994. XML a pared-down specification version of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Lanuage) develped by the ISO (International Organization for Standards) in 1986. Specifically, the LFDA marks its documents according to the Document Type Definition (DTD) created by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) consortium. TEI develops and maintains standards for the representation of texts in digital form through its guidelines for encoding methods for machine-readable texts, and is used widely by libraries, museums, publishers, and universities to present texts for online research, teaching, and preservation. In order to make XML documents backward-compatible with various web browsers, the LFDA also employs the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). CSS and HTML standards are also maintained by the W3C.

How does the LFDA process images?

The Lee Family Digital Archive trys to capture still images in formats of the highest possible quality and at a size that is appropriate for subsequent uses. Typically this means the images are captured by scanners or cameras in at least a 24-bit color depth in unprocessed RAW or TIFF formats. Images are compressed for web presentation, and usually presented in the JPEG or GIF formats. These formats are also non-proprietary.

Does the LFDA link to other websites?

Yes, the Lee Family Digital Archive links to appropriate Lee Family and George Washington websites. These include websites of historical sites and those containing educational and research materials related to the Lees of Virginia and to George Washington.

Why does the LFDA have a focus on George Washington?

The Lee Family Digital Archive focuses on George Washington for several reasons. First, Washington had close relationships with many prominent members of the Lee Family, before, during, and after the American Revolution. His home, Mount Vernon, was originally owned by the Lees, and after Washington’s death descendants of the Lee Family once again became involved with the plantation. Moreover, Washington is connected to the most famous of the Lees, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, in several ways: Lee’s marriage to Washington’s great-granddaughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis; the similarity of the two general’s separate wartime struggles; and the men’s educational endeavors. Finally, Washington was an original patron of what became Washington and Lee University, the LFDA’s initial host institution. See The Washington Connection link for more on Washington and the Lees.

When will the LFDA complete its work?

The work of the Lee Family Digital Archive ongoing. Because of the large number of people and documents being collected and presented, it is impossible at this time to project the number of years it will take to search, copy, transcribe, and edit the documents. Completion depends, of course, on the amount and stability of funding.