TEACHER RESOURCES

The resources on this page have been selected to support teacher and student needs. For other related teacher and student tips and tools—look for the pencil symbol throughout the Mount Vernon website.

From the battlefield to the home front and from the wheat fields to the presidential mansion women played an important, though sometimes forgotten, role in the formation of the American identity. Using Martha Washington and Mount Vernon as a stepping stone, students can explore new ways to connect the women of the founding era to the broader subjects of women’s history and the founding of our nation.

PRIMARY SOURCES

Martha Washington Obituary, June 9, 1802

Following Martha Washington's death on May 22, 1802 newspapers around the country eulogized her as "the worthy partner of the worthiest of men." This obituary appeared in the Augusta Herald, published in Georgia, on June 9, 1802. 

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Martha Washington’s Wedding Shoes

On her wedding day in 1759, Martha Dandridge Custis wore shoes of “purple sating with silver trimmings” along with a yellow dress. The craftsmanship and materials of her wedding attire were a reflection of her social and economic standing.

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George Washington to Martha Washington, June 23, 1775

George Washington wrote this letter to his wife, Martha before departing Philadelphia for the American camp in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The letter reveals the private side of Washington, a side rarely seen in his daily correspondence. After his death in 1799, Martha Washington destroyed all the letters written between herself and her husband. This letter is one of three that survive.

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Martha Washington postscript to George Washington, March 30, 1767

On March 30, 1767 Martha Washington included a short postscript in a letter Lund Washington sent to George Washington. This small note is one of the few existing pieces of correspondence between the Washingtons.

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Secondary Sources

Learn more about Martha Washington and other 18th century women.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
  • How did the role of women change during the philosophical and military revolutions that defined the Founding Era?

  • How do race, class, and marital status define a women’s standing in the 18th century?

  • What can objects and archaeological records tell us about women’s experiences in the past that are absent in other sources?
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