Top 5 “Lives & Legacies” Posts of 2015

This December marks the one-year anniversary of Lives & Legacies: Stories from George Washington’s Ferry Farm and Historic Kenmore. As we bring the blog’s first year to a close, we thought it might be worthwhile to share once again several of our most read entries from 2015. We hope you enjoy reading them for the first time or reading them again as we move into 2016 and year two of Lives & Legacies.

Here are our Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2015:

#5… Nancy Hallam: America’s First Celebrity Actress tells the story of the the earliest known acting troupe in the colonies and that troupe’s close connection to Virginia.  At the center of this story was a young actress named Nancy Hallam, whose talent was greatly praised at the time and who probably performed for Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Her renown was such that she was even painted by Charles Willson Peale.

#4… What is this Artifact? is one of many entries during the year focused on one particular artifact recovered by archaeologists at George Washington’s Ferry Farm.  As is often the case with archaeology, the artifact presented a mystery to solve.  A variety of alterations to an 18th century leaded glass base from a cup or mug raised the possibility that the resulting glass disc may have been a homemade toy top.

#3… George Toasts George? investigates the political meanings found in Westerwald stoneware recovered at Ferry Farm.   The presence of these artifacts celebrating the British Crown at George Washington’s boyhood home show that until the Revolution the Washington family, like most Americans, viewed themselves as loyal subjects of the king.  It is indeed intriguing to picture a young George Washington drinking heartily from a ‘G.R.’ mug and toasting a king against whom he would lead a revolution.

#2… After Digging: What Happens in the Archaeology Lab?  reveals that archaeology is far more than just digging for artifacts. In fact, generally, archaeologists spend 3 days in the lab cleaning, cataloging, labeling, and analyzing objects discovered for every 1 day spent digging them up. This post explains the process artifacts go through in the lab after being excavated from an archaeological site.

#1… Perukes, Pomade, and Powder: Hair Care in the 1700s begins with the fact that archaeologists at Ferry Farm have recovered a variety of hair care artifacts, including over 200 wig hair curlers.  These baked clay curlers were used exclusively to curl wigs, or ‘perukes’, and formed part of the Washington family’s regimen of wig maintenance.  The regimen included wearing wigs made from human hair, styling those wigs using pomades made from animal fats, and powdering them with flour or clay.  The post also discusses why powdered wigs were highly fashionable among gentlemen of the 1700s.