The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association: The Possibilities and Debates in a Civil Society

Just like Ann Pamela Cunningham, the founder of the Mount Vernon ladies’ association and defender of George Washington’s legacy, students can use persuasive language to motivate others to care about an important civic challenge they hope to address.  Through the analysis of a primary source and a civics activity, this learning resource empowers students to see themselves as citizens whose voices matter and who have agency to collaboratively confront problems in our world today.

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A Grub Hoe

This activity is designed to question students' assumptions on how labor was divided at Mount Vernon. Students will look at an artifact (the grub hoe) and then analyze primary and secondary sources to reinterpret that artifact. They will learn that enslaved women primary worked in the fields, while enslaved men usually did "skilled" tasks. This is an activity that will illustrate how gender binaries are constructed and have changed throughout history. It also reinforces students' STEM skills, such as percentages and ratios. 

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Ice Cream at Mount Vernon

An inquiry-based module that provides primary and secondary sources to help students answer the question: Why was ice cream an exclusive treat at Mount Vernon long ago? Using a familiar sweet treat as an entry point, students research and analyze the lives of enslaved individuals, as well as the specialized skills and objects that went into serving a single dish of ice cream. Source materials include farm reports, material culture objects, rooms, maps, and biographies. This project was developed in partnership with McGraw Hill Education. 

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