CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Thomas Jefferson's collection of law books for the University of Virginia is going online.

The law school is digitizing the books it's collected in a search that started more than 40 years ago.

Jefferson personally selected the 375 law books for the university's original 1828 library.

The project team carefully places the books under a dual-camera system that captures high-quality images of the pages. They'll go into a free virtual library along with essays that help people today interpret the legal texts.

"It's of interest to people to learn about how our legal culture developed," said Jim Ambuske, a Digital Humanities post-doctoral fellow. 

This is in a moment 50 years after independence when Americans were still trying to figure out what defines an American.

"It'll be a great opportunity to really expand our knowledge of early American law and how Americans interacted with the law," said Melissa Gismondi, Project co-director.