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Everyday Life in Colonial Virginia

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Jennifer Thomas

on 3 February 2014

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Transcript of Everyday Life in Colonial Virginia

Everyday Life in Colonial Virginia

What was life like for men on a Virginian farm?
The main job of a small farmer or planter was to raise a cash crop:
Most people were not wealthy.
Most were small farmers living on small farms.
There were some large plantation owners.
Households made their own clothing.
Most clothing was made of cotton, wool, and leather.
They would grow what they ate.
They did not have grocery stores.
Got goods from a Merchant store.
What was life like for women on a Virginia farm?
Women's main job was to run the household and raise the children.
What was life like for children on a Virginian Farm?
Children had a number of daily chores to do.
They began working on the farm at a young age.
Children used Hornbooks, which were simple tablets of wood that had the alphabet, numbers, and Bible passages carved on them.

People in colonial Virginia depended on
natural, human and, capital resources
Natural resources: materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used to make money.
Human resources: People who provide the labor and workforce- Indentured Servants and Slaves
Capital resources: Human-made goods, tools, machines and buildings used to produce other goods and services.
What was life like for enslaved African Americans on a Virginia farm?
Remember that slaves were people who were brought to Virginia against their will, from Africa, and are owned by another person.
Worked tobacco, crops, and livestock.
They had NO rights.
Virginia farmers relied on the labor of enslaved African Americans to help work the field.
During the growing season...
Farmers had to work hard:
Other duties...
The farmer managed the farm accounts, and oversaw the work of slaves.
In spring and summer...
During the Summer and Fall...
Women harvested, dried, and stored fruits and vegetables for winter meals.
Pickled foods for the winter.
Helped process the butchered hogs into ham and sausage, which was salted and smoked.
Women made lye soap out of fat from the hogs.
Women made candles from cow fat, called tallow.
Daily chores and responsibilities...
Chilren were given simple tasks such as:
washing dishes,
feeding chickens,
collecting eggs,
picking and stringing vegetables for drying,
topping the tobacco, and
picking tobacco worms off of the plants.
There were no public schools...
Children learned everything they needed to know at home.
Some wealthier families would hire tutotrs to come and live with the family to teach the boys.
Sometimes the local minister would provide simple schooling.
Boys and Girls had different responsibilities...
Small Farmers
Large Plantaions
Few white Virginians lived on large plantations with large houses.
These people usually owned up to 200-300 slaves depending on how big their plantations was.
Food choices were limited
Made from local produce and meats.
Use of slaves...
Each slave could raise about 3 acres of tobacco, but it was expensive to buy or lease a slave- the farmer had to balance the cost of an extra worker against the profit he would gain.
Most farmers had fewer than 5 slaves.
Everyday life of a slave...
Most slaves worked from sunrise to sunset.
Men, women, and children worked in tobacco fields.
Different jobs for men and women...
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
planting seeds in winter
transplanting seedlings to the fields in spring
worm, weed, and tend to the plants in summer
harvest, dry, and pack for shipping in the fall
Many farmers also grew corn for food and to feed their livestock.
Farmers took tobacco to the merchant to be inspected-used the money to purchase goods.
If he had a skill, he would build or repair the house or other farm buildings.
Many hunted, fished, and taught their sons grow tobacco and other crops, keep accounts, and other skills.
Civic Duties
Pay taxes
Participating as jurors
Serve in militia if between 16-60
Men who owned land had civic duties...
Women grew herbs like spearmint, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and parsley for flavoring food and health remedies.
They tended the kitchen garden that included beans, turnips, and peas.
Daily Activities...
Women cared for children and taught them simple tasks.
Women fed the livestock, collected eggs, tended the garden, made/mended clothing, did laundry, and cooked the meals.
Women also spun flax fibers into thread.
Boys were the ones who were taught, by their father, how to read, write, and do simple math problems to prepare them for future jobs of running the farm, making purchases, and dealing with farm accounts.
Boys also learned how to grow tobacco and harvest tobacco.
Girls learned skills like housekeeping, laundry, cooking, food preservation, gardening, poultry raising, knitting, sewing, carding wool, spinning, and child caring.
They learned how to use herbs to treat illness.
Girls MIGHT have been taught how to write their name and read the Bible.
Books were expensive, and only a few people could buy them. Therefore, most families only owned the Bible.
Aesop's fables were also popular with children.
Slaves on small farms often slept in the kitchen or an outbuilding, and sometimes in small cabins near the farmer's house.
On large plantations, where there were many slaves, they usually lived in small cabins in a slave quarter, far from the master's house but under the eye of an overseer.
Men helped with hanging, drying, and packing tobacco.
Men also helped building and repairing work on the farm.
Women would also help in the tobacco fields.
Women helped with the cooking, laundry, gardening, and child care.
Life as a Slave...
Because the small farmer owned only a few slaves, it was hard for slave men and women on these farms to find wives and husbands.
Some had family nearby on other farms, and their masters might let them visit each other.
Some other masters split up families and sent parents, and even children, to live and work in separate places.
Day to day life...
At the end of the day, on Sundays, and on Christmas, most slaves were allowed time to spend with family and take care of personal needs like household chores or tending their gardens.
They also would raise chickens and tobacco to sell for a small amount of money if they were allowed.
Most slaves were not taught how to read and write.
Culture remains
When they could, slaves would spend time visiting friends or family nearby, telling stories, and making music.
They combined African traditions with traditions of the Virginia colonists.
Kept some aspects of the African religion as well.
The life of a slave was often hard and cruel, participating in African traditions and cultures helped to make meaning and happiness.
Most people were small farmers who owned less than 5 slaves.
Lived in one-room homes with dirt floors.
Most white Virginians made their living from the land as small farmers.
There were
Free African Americans...
Most owned their own business and property, but did not really have any rights.
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