CHNM launches Probing the Past

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University is pleased to announce the launch of a new website: Probing the Past: Virginia and Maryland Probate Inventories, 1740-1810.

What was daily like life in the 18th century? For slaves? For slave owners? What objects did people use everyday for work, eating, or play? Probing the Past is a free website that allows users to explore these questions and many more. The site presents 325 probate inventories that were recorded between 1740 and 1810 in selected Virginia and Maryland counties. Resources include digitized copies and transcriptions of the inventories, keyword and advanced searches, browsing by decade and county, two in-depth interviews with scholars on how to analyze probate inventories, and three lesson plans.

Funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and completed in collaboration with Gunston Hall Plantation, Probing the Past uses material culture to illuminate the rituals and social relations of 18th-century families in Virginia and Maryland, as well as the region’s economy and connection to larger markets.

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Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians. Learn More

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