2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 22, 2021 3:37 PM by Abigail Shelton

    George Washington Farm Reports FAQs

    Abigail Shelton Adventurer

      Hi all!


      We're pleased to launch a small addition to the George Washington campaign comprising a collection of approximately fifty farm reports sent to Washington by a succession of farm managers after the war (1789-1798). These previously unpublished farm reports in George Washington’s papers are an important source of information about the lives of the enslaved people at Mount Vernon, documenting their labor as well as their births, deaths, travel, and more. You can find the new materials here.


      As you transcribe, you might notice common abbreviations, symbols, or formatting conventions and we wanted to provide some additional guidance on these elements. LC Intern Joseph Mitchell wrote a short guide (see below) to some of the things you might see in the reports and how to transcribe them. Please respond to this thread with your own questions as you dive into the reports.


      Happy transcribing!



      By the People Community Manager


      Q: Some pages are headed with “Dr” or “Cr.” What do these mean?


      A: Washington borrowed terms used in double-entry bookkeeping for use in his farm reports. “Dr” stands for debtor and “Cr” stands for creditor. “To” and “by,” which you will also see, are also bookkeeping terms. Washington used this system more extensively in his financial papers. Washington’s borrowing of bookkeeping terms in his farm reports may have to do with his interest in systematizing farm operations in this period.


      Q: Should I write out abbreviations?


      A: No. Just write the abbreviations as you see them. Ignore superscripts. For example, transcribe the abbreviation for amounting, Amtg, as Amtg. Other abbreviations you will see in the farm reports include:

      Acct = Account

      Alexa = Alexandria

      Blls = Barrels

      Bushs or Bus = Bushels

      Do = ditto

      Hhds = Hogsheads

      Mansn = Mansion

      Plantn = Plantation

      Recd = Received

      Tobo = Tobacco


      Q: What is meant by: No. 1, No. 2, etc.?


      A: Washington numbered his fields. For example, William Pearce’s June 18, 1795 report includes: “By howing corn in No.3 21 days” at Muddy Hole Farm.


      Q: What is ⅌? 


      A: ⅌ is eighteenth-century shorthand for the word “per.” Write “per” when you see this symbol.


      Q: Who are the people named in the reports and where can I learn more about them?


      A: The names in the work reports are mostly enslaved workers. Owners of slaves typically referred to them by single names. Free or indentured white servants are typically identified here and elsewhere by first and last names. The farm reports are an important source of information about the lives and labor of the enslaved population at Mount Vernon. To learn more about these individuals, see the George Washington Slavery Database, Mount Vernon.


      Q: How do I represent tables?


      A: Approximate tables using the space bar and tab key. For example:

      Mill Grist Dr         wheat corn  Rye Oats  Contra—Cr         Corn meal  Bran  hominy Rye

      Remg in the mill 1545 ¾  74 ½ 28     5                  By D. Run Plantn              10             "         "            "

      Totall this week       "3          11     " "       By River Plantn          10              " "           3

      To D. Run Plantn     " "        19 ½   " " By Muddy hole          6 ¼             " "             "

      To River Plantn " " 15 ½   "      "       By Ferry & Frenches 11 ½      " "            "

      To Ferry & Frenches  " "     16 ½     " "      By Mansn house        23 32 ½  14 ½ "

      To Muddy hole        " "        6 ½      " "     By Coopers & Miller 1           "          "        "

      1548 ¾ 143 ½   28     5                                        60 ¾        32 ½   14 ½ 3

      " "          60 ¾ 3      "                          

      Amg in the mill 1548 ¾      82 ¾ 25     5

      Source: George Augustine Washington, Farm Report, March 6, 1790.