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Historic Mount Vernon Launches Two New Educational Websites

Fri, 11/13/2009

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2009  

Media Contact:
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203

Historic Mount Vernon Launches Two New Educational Websites

MOUNT VERNON, Va. – George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens has launched a highly interactive website for elementary school children and a new comprehensive site that explores Martha Washington’s fascinating life. is a microsite that features immersive and lifelike games. is devoted entirely to the life and material culture of Martha Washington. The new websites reflect Mount Vernon’s priorities of providing an interactive learning environment for children and telling the often overlooked story of Martha Washington’s life.

Children’s Website

"We are excited to be developing a new relationship online with young people," said Crystal McCliggott, Director of Education Outreach Technology. "This new website educates children in an entertaining way, and we connect with them on their 21st-century terms, not through our usual channels."

The microsite includes three new games including a treasure hunt through the Mansion and outbuildings of the Estate, where users search for 25 of "Washington’s Treasures". Players use their keyboards to travel to various locations, and throughout their journey, they come upon characters from Washington’s world to help uncover the treasured objects. Martha Washington welcomes players to the formal dining room, the enslaved worker Nat greets visitors in his blacksmith shop, and the Washingtons’ granddaughter Nelly invites players to try her harpsichord.

"Bombarding Yorktown" challenges children to take the role of a Revolutionary War soldier. Players  rotate a cannon, take careful aim, and then fire upon a British fort, outpost, and frigates on the York River. Once they have inflicted enough damage, and receive a "thumbs up" from General Washington, players may proceed to the next level. But they better be good shots – each player only gets a certain number of cannonballs per battle!

In a nod to the presently popular "Guitar Hero" video game, the new microsite also features "Harpsichord Hero." Set in the Little Parlor of the Mansion, the goal of the game is to use the keyboard to keep one of five songs correctly playing in order for the General, Mrs. Washington, Dr. Craik, and Nelly Custis to continue dancing. If the notes are missed, the foursome ceases dancing and shakes their heads regretfully. Players can gauge their progress not only by hearing the correct melody, but by viewing a meter that measures "shabby", "diverting", and the coveted "macaroni!" also offers a jigsaw puzzle where users fit pieces together to create a portrait of Washington and a memory game featuring objects discovered through archaeology at Mount Vernon. was designed by Eduweb and made possible by the Richard Eaton Foundation.

Martha Washington Site serves as a research tool for both scholars and students and as a resource for teachers seeking national standards-based lesson plans that bring Lady Washington into the classroom.

Mrs. Washington’s biography is presented in six sections that explore areas of her life in depth. Early Life; The Custis Years; Life at Mount Vernon Before the Presidency; The War for Independence; The 1790s; and The Twilight Years feature historical information and images of objects, engravings, and portraits associated with Martha Washington. An archive with 450 letters written by or to Martha Washington further illuminates her voice.

Teaching materials focused on slavery, the Revolutionary War, and 18th-century sociability target middle and high school history students with modules that focus on examining material culture objects from the Mount Vernon collection and on improving students' historical thinking skills.

The website was designed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and made possible by Donald and Nancy de Laski.


Events, programs, and activities are subject to change.

Public Information:
703-780-2000; 703-799-8697 (TDD);

Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.