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This weight is lead and is somewhat rusted. It is made up of two pieces. The first piece is bigger and is almost in an oval shape. It has an iron eye - or tiny circle - attached to the top. The smaller piece is also oval-shaped but stands alone.

The bigger piece is about the size of a quarter. The dimensions of it are:

9.53mm x 22.51mm x 23.94mm (W x H x L)

When looking at this weight, consider the following questions:

  • The weight was found at the South Grove archaeological dig. What does this mean? Why might archaeology be important at historic sites like Mount Vernon?
  • What might this weight be used for, and who might have used it?
  • Why do you think the weight is in such bad shape?
  • What can this weight tell us about the people who lived and labored at Mount Vernon?

Classroom Materials downloads are ZIP files that include, when available: document images (JPEGs), document transcripts (PDF as well as Word and/or Excel files), and ready to use classroom resources (activities, discussion prompts, lesson plans, etc.). These materials are available for educational uses only. If you would like to reproduce them in any other medium, please contact Dawn Bonner, Manager of Visual Resources.



The Potomac River was another resource of income used by Washington through the labor of the enslaved population of the estate. Fishing was one of the many means by which Mount Vernon earned money. Fisheries were located at different spots on the property along the river.

The fisheries had three main purposes: supplementing the food supplies of the Washington family and guests, providing variety in the meager rations of food provided to the enslaved population, and providing an additional source of income when sold to merchants and neighbors.

The fishing season was brief and only lasted for a few weeks in April and May. During that time, the plantation’s enslaved workforce toiled day and night to haul in the bounty. Large nets, some as large as 500 feet, were stretched between two boats and tied down with weights to catch the teeming flow of fish, which were salted and immediately packed in barrels. Working in shifts, enslaved individuals gathered the typical annual catch of over a million herring and tens of thousands of shad.