Jefferson Society

The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society is the oldest student organization at the University of Virginia, a forum where speech, literature, and the matters of the day are all discussed among good company.  This is an organization dedicated to open discussion and respectful debate, flowery prose and rigorous science, self-improvement and good fun.

The Jefferson Society is inviting all students at the University of Virginia to interview for membership at the beginning of the Spring semester. Members of the Jefferson Society come from all parts of the University, including undergraduate programs, the Law School, Darden, Batten, and PhD programs. In the past, the Jefferson Society has served as an intellectual home at the University for a future U.S. President, Senators, a Nobel Laureate, and world-famous poets. As a literary and debating society, the members of the Jefferson Society meet weekly on Friday nights to deliver speeches on topics that impassion them, to debate over pressing matters facing the University or the country, to discuss the literature of today or of antiquity, and to converse with friends, old and new. If this seems like a place for you, please fill out an interview card and come interview at the beginning of the semester for a chance to join our storied membership.

If you have any questions regarding our interview week, our membership process, or the Jefferson Society in general, please contact our historian Mr. Ethan Jakum

A Welcome from our President

The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society has long been a home for intellectual debate, creative expression, and good fun among friends at the University of Virginia. Founded in 1825, the Society was established with the firm belief that opinions springing out of solitary observation are seldom correct and that we may best refine our ideas and better ourselves through debate and discourse.

The original 16 members believed that a Society of students from a wide range of academic disciplines would further their ambitions for self-improvement and the University’s goals of forging citizens able to engage in the world around them. Now in its 197th year of perpetual existence, the Society remains committed to these core values of free expression, fellowship, and intellectual rigor. 

It’s not exactly fair to say that there is no other organization here like the Jefferson Society. After all, many organizations at the University–from book clubs to Greek life to Student Council–were modeled after the Literary and Debating Societies of the time, and so bear at least some resemblance. Yet none hold so tightly to the original goal; improve yourself and improve the world.

If you are interested in joining us on this endeavor, feel free to interview this January or attend one our meetings in Jefferson Hall this semester.

Haec Olim Meminisse Iuvabit,

Jule M. Voss

President, Spring 2022