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MAY 1, 2012


To Bathe or Not to Bathe

Bathing was not a common occurrence in the eighteenth century. People didn't often notice the body odor of others because it was the norm. Eighteenth-century bathing—at least for the wealthy, or gentry, class—was more commonly used for relaxation and health. Those who did bathe for cleanliness generally focused on washing only their hands and faces. Wealthier colonists kept wash basins in their bedchambers for this purpose. It's safe to assume that we would have found the entire Old Dominion—in fact, all thirteen colonies—afflicted with B.O. And since everyone stank, no one noticed it or recorded it for history. In this article, Edwards Park explains colonial cleanliness.

Primary Source of the Month

St. George Tucker Tub
St. George Tucker Tub
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

St. George Tucker installed the first copper bathtub in Williamsburg in his house near the end of the eighteenth century. Tucker put it in his dairy, piping in hot water from the laundry in the servants' quarters. The cold water pipe came in from his well. After he'd splashed about in it and scrubbed himself, he'd vent the bathwater right out of the house.

The Will of the People EFT
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is The Will of the People
October 11, 2012

Find sources of federal funding for EFTs in this PDF.

Teacher Community

Teaching News

Colonial Williamsburg Advocacy

For us, advocacy means telling people about exciting Colonial Williamsburg programs and initiatives based on American history and civics. It also means raising awareness nationwide about the need for history, social studies, and citizenship education. Will you help us? An Advocate may meet with community leaders or organizations. He or she might speak to school administrators and teachers, or simply chat with friends about Colonial Williamsburg’s engaging materials and powerful mission. For more information about our advocacy initiatives, visit us online at or contact us directly at 1-800-761-8331 or

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Gift to the Nation

Colonial Williamsburg's Gift to the Nation™ in this election year provides teachers with unique resources to engage students in the study of citizenship and our founding democratic principles. The Electronic Field Trip "The Will of the People" examines the presidential election of 1800, one of the most bitter in U.S. history. Thomas Jefferson explains how negative campaigning and partisan politics have been a part of our political system since the earliest days of the republic.

  • Available online 24/7 from September 1 to September 30, 2012
  • On-demand video streaming over the Web
  • Email Thomas Jefferson
  • Interactive online games
  • Downloadable resources, such as the teacher guide and program script (PDFs)
  • Comprehensive lesson plans

Register Now at

The Idea of America
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.

Downloadable American History
Lesson Plans from ABC-CLIO
and Colonial Williamsburg


Colonial Williamsburg CONNECT

Join us May 19 from 3–4 p.m. Eastern time online or in the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area for our LIVE event! Enjoy scenes from our Revolutionary City program, live Q&A with our actor-interpreters, and discussion moderated by radio personality Cathy Lewis.

Teaching Strategy: Keeping Clean in the Colonies

In this lesson, students will brainstorm ideas on why colonists didn't bathe regularly and understand the reasons behind their lack of bathing. Students will also be able to identify materials and objects used in the cleansing process. The lesson extensions compare bathing in the eighteenth century to bathing today.

Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Resources for Your Classroom

2012–2013 Teaching Resources Catalog

Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality American history instructional materials, including:

  • Colonial Toiletries
  • Primary Sources CD-ROMs

Kids Zone: History, Games & Fun

Quotation of the Month

"Old as he is, his habit is, every morning, winter and summer, to rise before the sun, go to the well in the yard, draw several buckets of water, and fill the reservoir for his shower bath, and then, drawing the cord, let the water fall over him in a glorious shower. Many a time have I heard him catching his breath and almost shouting with the shock. When he entered the breakfast room his face would be in a glow, and all his nerves were fully braced."

—William Munford of his law teacher, George Wythe. From The Two Parsons: Cupid's Sports; The Dream; and The Jewels of Virginia, by George Wythe Munford, published by J.D.K. Sleight in Richmond, 1884, pg. 364.

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Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers

May Podcasts
05/07: Organic Gardening
Vodcast: Newsham's Fire Engine
05/14: Rare Breeds
05/21: George Washington Q&A
05/28: Colonial Tailors

2010 Distance Learning Award
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010

2011 AEP Finalist
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers

The Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip Series is supported in part
by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.

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