Adventures in Digital History 2010 Rotating Header Image

Mary Ball Washington Contract

Mary Ball Washington Group Contract

Digital History 471C3

Group Members

Jenn Arndt

Caitlin Donnelly

Stephanie Lefferts

Kari Wilson

Section I – Mission Statement

The purpose of our website is to educate the University of Mary Washington and Fredericksburg community on who Mary Ball Washington was and why she was significant. Through a survey of the UMW student body, we have found that most students know that Mary Ball Washington was the mother of our first president, but when asked why she was important not many people can provide more information.  Our group aims to produce a website that follows the life of Mary Ball Washington chronologically. We intend to cover topical areas of her life, including her personality, relationships with family members, such as her son George, and her legacy. This website will cater to an audience that includes those affiliated with the University of Mary Washington, residents of Fredericksburg, and anyone else who may be interested in Mary Washington. We hope that our audience will gain more knowledge of the life and legacy of the “Grandmother of our Country”.  We shall accomplish this through extensive research which we will post on the website with citations. We plan to include a 5- 10 minute video, map, timeline, as well as primary documents, such as her correspondence with George and her will. With diligence and hard work we hope to produce an informative and interesting website that provides a more in-depth look into the life and legacy of Mary Ball Washington. As the University of Mary Washington is implementing a new strategic plan over the next five years that will celebrate the life and times of Mary Washington, we hope that our website will provide another reference to the life of Mary Washington and her impact.

Section II – Tools

Video Tools:

  • Youtube:
    • We plan on using Youtube to store the video we will create for this project so that it can be easily embedded onto our website.
  • Digital cameras:
    • We will use the digital cameras to make recordings of the interviews we will take of UMW faculty and students, and the downtown residents of Fredericksburg.
  • Video:
    • We plan on using the documentary film-making techniques pioneered by Ken Burns. More information on Burns’ film-making techniques can be found on the website provided by WETA, We will use Windows Movie Maker for the video editing.  Our video will be created with the interviews we take, images we find that relate to Mary Washington, and anything else we find that will make a good addition.
  • Flickr:
    • Any images that we collect or take which we think will be useful for this site will be stored here so they can be easily uploaded onto our site.  Our final selection of images will be directly uploaded to our UMWblogs website.

Website Publishing:

  • WordPress:
    • This will be the primary publishing software from where we launch the website on Mary Ball Washington. We decided to use UMW blogs because it is the most efficient way to organize and to publish information on the life and legacy of Washington. This publishing software also allows us to link our website to other sites about Washington, such as the Mary Washington House website.
  • Simile:
    • We will use Similie to create the timeline of Mary Ball Washington’s life. We will also use this tool to organize the results from the survey given to the UMW student body into categories such as major and class. We will use the MIT Nobel Prize example ( as a guideline for this organization and analysis of the results from the survey.

Organizing and Collecting Information:

  • Google Docs:
    • We will use Google Docs to share information with one another, communicate our ideas efficiently, and display our individual research.
    • We also used the Google Docs spreadsheet to create and store the results from our survey and the information for our timeline exhibit.
  • Google Calendar:
    • The calendar will be used to keep track of due dates and progress with an emphasis on our Milestones.  This will help to keep the entire group on the same page and up to date on accomplishing our tasks in a timely fashion.
  • Google Wave:
    • Google Wave will be our primary method of communicating with each other in “real time” in order to collaborate all at once from various locations about the creation of our website.
  • Facebook:
    • A social network we used to contact the UMW student body. We created a group so that we could reach most of the student body and asked for their input in a survey, for which the results were stored in a Google Docs spreadsheet, thus learning what our target audience already knows about Mary Ball Washington.

Section III – Division of Labor and Structure

We have divided Mary Ball Washington’s life into four time periods to research as well as categorize her life.

The divisions are as follows:

  • Kari’s research will focus on Mary Washington’s early life, 1708-1738.  Looking at her early life will lead to learning more about her personality and who she was before she was a wife and mother.
  • Jenn plans on focusing on Mary Washington’s life while she lived at Ferry Farm from Dec. 1738 to Sept. 1772. Part of this will look more deeply into who she was as a woman, widow, and mother.
  • Stephanie’s focus will be on  Mary Washington’s time spent in Fredericksburg and the relationships she developed near the end of her life, such as with her son George. This time period ranges from 1772 to 1789.
  • Caitlin will focus on Mary Washington’s afterlife and legacy. Part of this will include posting her will as well as links to websites of museums, such as the Mary Washington House website.


As we continue our research we will post more information including primary documents, pictures, links, etc. respective to each category to enhance the website.

In addition to the categories of Mary Ball Washington’s life we also intend to include the following:

  • Survey: Jenn and Stephanie
    • While brainstorming about the website, we all came into agreement that there is a general feeling that students and residents of Fredericksburg don’t really know who Mary Ball Washington was and what was her significance. We decided to create a survey form using GoogleDocs. This survey was distributed to the students, alumni, and staff of the Mary Washington network on facebook on February 4, 2010. The survey asked each person their graduation year, their major, who they thought Mary Washington was, why was she significant and where they learned this information. By asking their graduation year we hope to see if students who have graduated or have attended the university for a few years know more than those who have only just arrived. We asked what their major was to determine whether different majors influenced their knowledge of Mary Washington. We are now receiving feedback from the survey. We will terminate the survey on March 8, 2010. It is through this survey that we hope to determine what the UMW community already knows about Mary Washington  in order to create a website that best addresses the needs of our audience.
      • Facebook
      • Google Docs
      • Simile
  • Family Tree: Caitlin and Kari
    • We intend to post a family tree so our audience can better understand the history of Mary Ball Washington’s family background and how this influenced her attitude towards life. We hope that this family tree will serve to remove any confusion between Mary Ball Washington and any other members of her extended family, such as Martha Washington. We will also provide an explanation of how Mary Washington’s own family history affected her life.
      • Simile or some other plugin or tool such as a flow charting tool that we find meets this goal efficiently.
  • Video: Jenn and Caitlin
    • The website will include one 5-10 minute video that will be used as an introduction to the site and its contents. Through this video we hope to provide the viewer with background information about what the student body and community already knows about Mary Washington. The first few minutes of the video will include interviews with students and the Fredericksburg community, asking them the same questions on the survey. This portion of the film will potentially show the lack of knowledge on the significance of Mary Washington.  The rest of the video will address the significance of Mary Washington. The video will include a more detailed look in the life of Mary Washington through interviews with faculty and pictures. This video will then give the audience a reason to look deeper into the site so that they can gain a broader understanding of her life and why she was significant.
      • Windows Movie Maker
      • Flickr
      • Youtube
  • Timeline: Kari and Stephanie
    • The timeline will be a way for our audience to more easily follow the events throughout Mary Ball Washington’s life in an organized manner.
      • Simile
      • Flickr
  • Map: Everyone in collaboration with the Dr. Hanna’s map-making class.
    • This map will be an interactive showcase into the places that are affiliated with Mary Ball.  These places include Lancaster County, Ferry Farm and her Fredericksburg residence on Charles Street.  Historic sites and museums affiliated with her will also be included on the map. By clicking on labeled parts of the map, the viewer will be directed to information about Mary Ball’s life while living in that particular location and to where we can still see her impact in the present day.
      • The map will be designed and made interactive by our group and a static map will be created by the students in the map class.
  • WordPress:
    • The entire group will be collaborating on the overall design of the website.
    • Each member will individually create a webpage according to her category discussed above.

Section IV – Milestones

Feb. 4:  Post survey on Facebook group “Who was Mary Washington” and mass message the UMW community

Feb. 17: Interview with Ms. Felder and Ms. McCabe

Feb. 25:  Created and printed Waivers for interviews; laid out framework for timeline and a family tree in a Google Spreadsheet; Interview Professors Crawley and Hudgins

March 8:  Remove survey from online

March 8:  All individual research finished

March 9: Map design/idea ready to present to the geography students

March 13-20: Conduct interviews on UMW Campus and downtown Fredericksburg

March 17:  Website base constructed in WordPress so other parts can start being plugged into the site

March 31:  Elements to video have been selected (ex. interviews, photos)

April 1:  Have the map completed.

April 14:  Finished video, timeline, family tree, survey results, and map uploaded to website

April 16:  Check that all links and technical aspects are working correctly

April 20:  Projects Due

April 22:  Reflection Paper/Blog Post Due

*Disclaimer:  These dates are completion dates.  The technical aspects of things such as the creation of the website, timeline etc. will be started prior to the March 17th and April 14th deadline.