The brown silk dress that belonged to Martha Washington can be seen as a symbol of the multiple roles she played. Among many other roles, she was the wife of an elite Virginia planter, she was the female partner in a Chesapeake plantation, and she was the nation's first First Lady. All these roles required her to be sociable: to entertain and to make other people feel comfortable. This activity explores the connection between Martha Washington's gender and class and the expectations placed on her as a result of her station.

You may rotate the dress to examine it from many angles. Click on the movie frame below to view a short film about Martha Washington and Sociability.