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John Augustine Washington III and Eleanor Love Selden correspondence

 Collection — Shelf: A:3
Identifier: RM-528

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence between John Augustine Washington III and his wife Eleanor Love Selden. The letters begin during the Washingtons’ engagement and continues through eighteen years of marriage, ending with a letter from John Augustine to Eleanor composed the day prior to her sudden death. The letters contain information on family matters, the management of the Mount Vernon estate, and plantation life prior to the Civil War.


  • Creation: 1842-1860


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.

Biographical / Historical

John Augustine Washington III (1821-1861): John Augustine Washington was the great-grandnephew of George Washington and the last Washington to own Mount Vernon before its sale to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (MVLA). He was born on May 3, 1821 to John Augustine Washington II and Jane Charlotte Blackburn Washington. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1840, and returned to Mount Vernon to manage the declining estate with his widowed mother’s permission. In 1843, he married Eleanor Love Selden with whom he had seven children. He sold 200 acres of Mount Vernon to the MVLA in 1858 for $200,000, and he and his family moved to Waveland plantation in Fauquier County, Virginia in 1860. He served as aide-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee, but was shot by a bushwhacker and died one week later on September 13, 1861.

Eleanor Love Selden Washington (1824-1860): Born April 12, 1824 to Wilson Cary Selden and Louisa Elizabeth Fontaine Alexander Selden, “Nelly” married John Augustine Washington III on February 16, 1843. Together, they had seven children: Louisa, Jane Charlotte (“Jenny”), Eliza (“Lily”), Anna Maria, Lawrence, Eleanor (“Nelly”), and George. She died from childbirth October 9, 1860.


0.5 Linear Feet : 2 boxes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged first by letters written by John Augustine Washington III, organized chronologically, and second by letters written by Eleanor Love Selden Washington, organized chronologically.

Related Materials

Bushrod Washington Family Papers ; John Augustine Washington III and Descendants Papers ; Elswyth Thane Beebe Collection of Washington Family Papers ; Historic Manuscripts Collection

John Augustine Washington III and Eleanor Love Selden correspondence, 1842-1860
Angelica Yost, Assistant for Library Operations
August 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections at The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon Repository

PO Box 3600
Mount Vernon VA 22121