Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Glimpse Into George Washington's Life

Image 117 of 377, Matthew Morris to George Washington, October 19, 1
Source from Library of Congress
October 19, 1776
It is amazing the things you can learn from scraps of paper. I am a scrapbooker and my husband is always saying to use more scraps! Use receipts, tickets, etc to make the story more complete, he says. In this case, you can learn so much more from simple receipts and scraps of paper. The Library of Congress has a collection of George Washington Papers. These papers include these scraps and things to give you a picture of his life and the life of those around him. For example, this single receipt gives you a host of information about a woman named Martha Morris who once did his laundry and gave him a receipt on Oct. 19, 1776.  You can look at the information you can gather from this simple receipt and think about the clues to who Martha Morris might have been. You can also work with students to look at where this was (New York) and why he would have been there. Compare what might have been her experience with what Washington did in the war, or write a fictional bio of her using what you know.

I think just seeing what writing looked like or seeing paper that was touched and held and used by someone so long ago is a great way to get students interested in the past. It makes it come alive and seem like more than just a story in a history book. Especially thinking about other regular people like you and me that might have interacted with someone like George Washington. What happened to her? Who was she? I would love to know.

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