GW: Kids

Questions — Storybook George

Historians use primary documents from the time period of George Washington's life to try and figure out what stories about him are myths and what really happened.

1. OK, it's time to find out the real story. Read the sentences from the letter to George Washington from his dentist, John Greenwood, below. If you're feeling brave, try to read the handwriting in the originial document beneath that.

Port wine being sower takes of all the polish and All Acids has a tendency to soften every kind of teeth and bone. Acid is Used in Colouring every kind of Ivory. therefore it is very pern[i]cious to the teeth.

  • So, were Washington's teeth wooden or not?
  • In the last sentence, what do you think "pernicious" means? (The first "i" was not in the original, so we've added it in square brackets.) If you're still not sure, link here to look it up. Type in pernicious and click GO.
  • Now, link here for more proof.

2. One thing historians must keep in mind when working with Washington's letters is whether he really wrote them. We have to be careful of forgeries, or fake documents that neither Washington nor his secretaries wrote.

Take a look at this sample of Washington's handwriting immediately below. Then, looking at the following two documents, see if you can tell which is an authentic,or the one that Washington really wrote, and which is a forgery.


Now click on the note you think Washington wrote himself.