In a world of instant messaging, emails, and cell phones, there is something uplifting about opening the old-fashioned mailbox and discovering, beneath the bank statements, utility bills, and junk mail, a handwritten letter from a friend, a relative, or a lover. For Thomas Jefferson, letters from friends and family were "like gleams of light, to cheer a dreary scene." If the humble longhand epistle is, during the twenty-first century, on the road to quaintness, in the eighteenth century it epitomized communication.
Inkstand, ca. 1795,
with reproduction quills and handwritten letter.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
This silver-plated inkstand contains small glass bottles for holding quills, ink, and sand. Quills were the predominant writing instrument in the Western world from medieval times to almost the end of the nineteenth century, since they were readily available, cheap, and relatively easy to construct.
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is A More Perfect Union
October 13, 2011
Find sources of federal funding for EFTs in this PDF.
Downloadable American History
Lesson Plans from
and Colonial Williamsburg
Gift to the Nation September 6-30
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is offering complimentary access to this electronic field trip about the conflict and compromises that accompanied the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. To register for complimentary access to “A More Perfect Union,” go to http://giftnation.history.org.
CONNECT Launches September 14
Colonial Williamsburg's CONNECT invites you to join a national dialog about what it means to be an American engaged in the Great Debate. Colonial Williamsburg's rich resources of video, audio, documents, books, texts, articles, and interactive media provide the background to re-examine who we are as a nation. Each week introduces a new topic. CONNECT is designed to be a place for continuing vibrant debate about our core values.
09/05: Constitution DayThe Evolution of the Jury
09/12: A Tombstone's Forgotten Tale
09/19: Hammer and Tongs in the Blacksmith's Shop
09/26: Spies at Jamestown
Live CONNECT Webcast
Sept 22, 2 p.m. Eastern
George Washington and James Madison discuss the arguments involved in the framing of the Constitution, and how those arguments relate to 21st century issues.
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.
Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers
20112012 Electronic Field Trip Scholarships
In the eighteenth century, letter writing was the primary form of communication with people in the next town, another colony, or across the ocean. The language and style of colonial writing is often rich in its use of language and detail. In this lesson, students will read and respond to real letters from eighteenth-century correspondents using eighteenth-century words and phrases.
Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality
instructional materials about 18th-century
- Quill Pen and Ink Powder
- Jefferson and Adams (DVD and Teacher Guide)
Check out our Back to School specials.
Check out our two new
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning, preK–12
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers
Quotation of the Month
"Take pains ... to write a neat round, plain hand, and you will find it a great convenience through life to write a small and compact hand as well as a fair and legible one."
Thomas Jefferson, April 16, 1810, in a letter to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph.
The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson, p. 395, eds. E.M. Betts and J.A. Bear, Jr. (1966).