In the summer of 2016, I was fortunate enough to intern with the Historic Trades Department of Mount Vernon, interpreting at the Pioneer Farm as well as the Gristmill and Distillery. This was an invaluable experience, as it has taught me much about the late 18th century, and more particularly, about the lives of the enslaved at Mount Vernon. During the Internship, I learned to run the mill, spin, dye, and weave wool, harvest tobacco and flax, thresh and winnow wheat, dance 18th Century reels, and cook everything from boiled puddings to ice cream.
While there, I had the opportunity to work with the Trades Department’s Seamstress to create any historical garment I chose. I decided to make a pair of jumps which is a garment similar to stays, though less constricting. Using images of two originals, we modified a pattern and recreated a pair of jumps for my use. I loved working with the seamstress and profited materially from her skill and time. After hours upon hours of hand stitching, the project turned out wonderfully.
A fundamental aspect of the internship is the creation of a research project or paper which explores a piece of Mount Vernon history that each intern found most interesting. I conducted original research on the garments of Mount Vernon’s slave population. It gave me a great sense of purpose to know that my work was useful to the Trades Department and would be a resource for them for years to come.