by Bernard K. Means
Living and working as an archaeologist in Virginia, it is probably not surprising that my path has crossed that of the first president of the U.S. in a number of ways. I helped direct a few Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) field schools at George Washington’s Ferry Farm, and 3-D scanned numerous artifacts associated with the Washington family during George’s formative years, as well as, and especially, items associated with the Washington family’s enslaved servants. My VCU students and I also 3-D scanned artifacts from the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, where George spent the first three years of his life, and at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, where he died. Over the years, we have also 3-D scanned (and 3-D printed) artifacts associated with Thomas Jefferson (Poplar Forest) and James Madison (Montpelier), especially also here their enslaved servants. One of my VCU students, Michelle Taylor, who interned in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, excavated at James Madison’s Montpelier, only to learn later that she was a descendant of the enslaved community there. As an intern, she helped 3-D scan artifacts from Montpelier, and uses 3-D printed replicas when she tells her story. In the coming months, we expect to work more with the lives and legacies of these presidents and all those around them.