Exhibitions of Gentility at George Washington’s Boyhood Home

Author(s): Laura Galke

Year: 2013


The examination of personal accessories recovered from George Washington’s boyhood home (1738-1774) reveals the family’s efforts to portray their respectability and gentry class identity despite the economic and social anxieties they experienced after the death of their family patriarch.  Dedicated analysis of small finds artifacts demonstrate the family’s commitment to genteel behavior and display.  Clothing accessories such as powdered wigs and sleeve buttons proclaimed their class, and, on occasion, even political orientation.  The Washingtons used material culture to demonstrate to the community their sophistication, elegance, and the leisure time they could devote to socially-compelling activities such as fox hunting, the tea ceremony, and fancy needlework.  This analysis was made possible through research, artifact conservation, and consultation with specialists.  The potent interpretations which result from these historically-significant discoveries allow new insights into a poorly-documented period of this important family. 

Cite this Record

Exhibitions of Gentility at George Washington’s Boyhood Home. Laura Galke. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428697)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 354