Announcing GW’s Well-bred Wednesdays!

By Stephanie Kingsley

In 1745, a George Washington of about 14 or 15 years of age wrote a sort of commonplace book he entitled “Forms of Writing.” This book, about 30 folio pages, contained copied receipts and other documents, lines on “True Happiness,” and 110 “Rules of Civility.” These rules reflect what was considered to be polite behavior in society. They date back to the 1590s, when they were written down by French Jesuits, and they were adapted, translated, and published multiple times since then. The young Washington likely copied them down to practice his handwriting. For more on the history of these maxims, click here.

The Papers of George Washington is pleased to present a new tweet and news series, “GW’s Well-bred Wednesdays,” which will be covering these fascinating maxims. Every Wednesday, we will be tweeting one maxim out of Washington’s book, and when a maxim is of particular historical interest, we will be reflecting on that under “Recent News.” Many of the maxims are relevant for today, such as “Sleep not when others Speak”—always good advice. This week’s maxim, “Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out of your Chamber half Drest,” is also applicable to all ages. It may be of interest to many, however, to get a better idea of what exactly was considered “half Drest” in Washington’s day, so we took up the task this week of compiling a list of resources for further reading.

Resources

Colonial Williamsburg: Clothing

A fascinating array of resources on colonial-era clothing. Here, users can learn about how different social groups dressed and the materials clothing was made of. I particularly recommend “Dressing the Part: an interactive adventure” as an engaging way to learn how different members of society arranged their outfits–fun for all ages!

“Colonial Dress Codes.” Baumgarten, Linda. Colonial Williamsburg Journal (Winter 03-04).

Baumgarten’s article describes how clothing reflected social status in the 18th century using several case studies which draw on contemporary documents describing dress.

“Looking at Eighteenth-Century Clothing”. Baumgarten, Linda. Colonial Williamsburg.

In this article, Baumgarten discusses how 18th-century colonists adapted their clothing according to the occasion. She also includes several comments on appropriateness throughout the article.


About Stephanie Kingsley

This past May, 2014, Stephanie completed her M.A. in English at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student she focused on American literature, textual studies, and learning as much about digital humanities as possible. She served as project manager for the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, rebuilding the Ivanhoe Game, and now works at Rare Book School and the Washington Papers doing bibliographical research and social media.

The Quest for Truth: editor Ed Lengel advises on a spurious Washington quote

By Stephanie Kingsley

As you know, here at the Papers of George Washington, as well as at Mount Vernon, we are dedicated to preserving Washington’s writings. What did he really say? By referring to his papers, we can often find the answers. Just last week, our editor-in-chief, Ed Lengel, was consulted by Columbian reporters on the veracity of the quote on the Bend veterans’ monument, located outside the Deschutes County Courthouse in Bend, Oregon. The monument reads:

The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.

According to Lengel, there is no evidence Washington ever said these words.  What this means is that after reading thousands of Washington’s papers—many now searchable in the digital edition at Founders Online—these words have never appeared. Before quoting a figure such as Washington, researchers should always refer to the original documents when available; and researchers everywhere should know that in the case of Washington, these resources do indeed exist.

See the full article for Lengel’s comments on spurious Washington quotes and myths. We will also be starting a series of posts on quotations attributed to Washington, so stay tuned as we continue our quest for historical truth here at the Papers of George Washington.


About Stephanie Kingsley

This past May, 2014, Stephanie completed her M.A. in English at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student she focused on American literature, textual studies, and learning as much about digital humanities as possible. She served as project manager for the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, rebuilding the Ivanhoe Game, and now works at Rare Book School and the Washington Papers doing bibliographical research and social media.

Financial Papers Survey

The Financial Papers Project at the Papers of George Washington seeks to create a free-access Internet database containing accurate transcriptions of Washington’s financial documents, including ledgers, account books, receipts and other items. In order to make this web-based resource as user-friendly as possible, we welcome you to participate in our Financial Papers Survey.

You can take the survey here: https://docs.google.com/a/virginia.edu/forms/d/1bGtXhIZwVsTCN7eZR7rK5oNwl4KM0WvzDBWY03PMp04/viewform

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