Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski

Second Advisor

David Landon

Third Advisor

Christa Beranek


Children surround us in our lives, today and in the past. It is these important individuals to whom we pass on our values, norms, and everyday culture and without which our society would cease to exist. Yet these individuals can be difficult to access in the historical and archaeological record, and until recently, few archeologists have included children in their research questions or interpretations. The narrative of George Washington and the extensive archaeology research that has been conducted at Ferry Farm, Washington's boyhood home, and Mount Vernon, his adult home, provide evidence on the complex topic of 18th-century childhood. In this thesis, I utilize the childhoods of George Washington and his siblings at Ferry Farm, and Washington's step-children at Mount Vernon as examples to explore the interplay between material culture and children. This thesis takes a critical approach to defining childhood artifacts as more than simply toys and stresses the importance of incorporating everyday objects into studies of childhood. The material culture recovered archaeologically from both of these sites alludes to the importance of the process of socialization and begins to get at the skills and behaviors that were taught to children during this formative period. This thesis also examines how through daily interaction and the process of socialization, these objects played a significant role in the creation of identities, specifically class and gender, as the children grew to adulthood.


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