Edgar Allan Poe became a member of the Society on June 17, 1826, while he was a student at the University. A few evenings after joining, Poe read an essay, as was the custom of the Society at that time, entitled “Heat and Cold.”
Poe participated in a few debates of the Society and served briefly as secretary pro tempore at one meeting. It was believed that Poe’s entry in the minute book had been destroyed with the rest of the Society’s archives in the Rotunda Fire of 1895. However, a curious thief had excised Poe’s signature from the minute book sometime during the late 1800’s. Over the next century, Poe’s signature came into the possession of an order of nuns in Oregon. The Society was able to acquire the signature from the sisters, and it now resides in the Special Collection of Alderman Library.
On April 1-2, 1995, the Jefferson Society held a 24-hour charity read-a-thon of Poe’s works in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of “The Raven.” Proceeds from the read-a-thon went to benefit Reading Partners, a literacy program in Charlottesville. The Society raised more than $1700 for Reading Partners over the course of the read-a-thon.