Located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Ferry Farm was the childhood home of George Washington. It was the farm he inherited from his father, and it was where his mother Mary spent much of her life. It also is the setting for such celebrated Washington stories like his chopping his father’s cherry tree and his throwing a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River. But above all, it was the landscape on which the Father of the Country spent his formative years. Today no trace of the eighteenth-century Washington farmstead is visible. But that is changing, digging season by digging season and excvation pit by excavation pit.
Beginning in 2002 The University of South Florida and George Washington’s Fredericksburg Foundation inaugurated their Historical Archaeological Field School as part of the extensive study of the early eighteenth-century Washington farmstead. The project seeks to locate, excavate, understand, and ultimately reconstruct the Washington family’s 1740s home. Several years into the project our crews have exposed hundreds of historical features and one million artifacts. From the project’s very start undergraduate and graduate field school students have played central roles in this work. Over 100 students from all across the country have gotten their hands dirty learning archaeology on the site of Washington’s boyhood home. Many have returned summer after summer either as repeating students, interns, or hired crew.
The core of the program is the six-week-long field school class during which students learn excavation skills, archeological theory and issues, and museum studies. During the session students work in the field, go on weekly field trips to Virginia and Maryland museums and historical sites, and participate in class discussions.
The website contains considerable information about the program and the project. It also has students-written pages and application materials. Please feel free to look around and contact us with any questions you may have about the Field School or Ferry Farm.