Learn About 18th-century Medicine with Dr. James Craik
Meet George Washington’s personal physician and close friend, Dr. James Craik, to learn about 18th-century medicine and its ties to modern medicine. Students will learn about medical instruments, diagnose ailments, prescribe treatments, and discuss the importance of taking care of yourself both in Washington’s time and today.
About Tom Plott
Plott brings over 25 years of professional acting and directing experience to Mount Vernon. He has made a career of portraying historical characters, from William Shakespeare to John Wilkes Booth. He now uses his versatility to depict several key figures in George Washington’s life, among them Dr. James Craik, Samuel Vaughn and James Anderson. Plott has also served as writer for several special performances at Mount Vernon, including A Night at Mount Vernon, The Forgotten Patriots and the Children’s Naturalization Ceremony for the children of new U.S. citizens.
Suggested Classroom Activities
A. Be Well! Stress Less
You hear it all the time: “This is stressful!” or “I’m stressed!” But what does stress really do to your body? Feelings like nervousness and anxiety are normal—and even sometimes helpful—but feeling them too much or too often can be damaging to your health. Students will find out what’s happening in their body when they feel stressed or anxious, and then try three activities that can help them relax and be well!
B. Finding Peace in the Chaos
Show the paintings, “A Peaceable Kingdom,” provided in the Using Museum Exhibits in the Classroom link above, or “The Prayer at Valley Forge,” a secondary source produced in 1975 by Arnold Friberg. Other more accurate, source paintings may be found in Mount Vernon’s digital encyclopedia. Hold a discussion about why the painting was created. Read aloud What Is Peace? or Peace: A Book of Mindfulness. Discuss how a time of prayer or silent meditation can bring about a sense of calmness or peace. Ask students to write about what peace means to them. Create marbled peace doves and transfer writing to doves.
Dove of Peace Weathervane and Puppet
Washington’s dove of peace atop his Mount Vernon Mansion symbolized his hope that peace would prevail long into the future, both at Mount Vernon and across the new nation. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make your own dove of peace weathervane and/or puppet.
C. The Importance of Health
Students will examine excerpts from different primary source documents to understand the importance that Washington placed on being proactive about personal health. After the examination, students will create their own health diaries, like Washington.