02 June 2017

Probing the Past -- Chesapeake Region of VA & MD Probate Inventories 1740-1810



Probing the Past -- Chesapeake Region of VA & MD Probate Inventories 1740-1810

This is an interesting database.  The contents were collected for a particular purpose -- to determine what furnishings might have been found in Gunston Hall Plantation, the colonial home of George Mason.

Researchers at Gunston Hall Plantation, the colonial home of George Mason (1725-1792), collected 325 probate inventories from the Chesapeake region of Maryland and Virginia for the period of 1740 to 1810. These inventories were transcribed and the household items entered into a searchable database (view this original database online or download it (requires Microsoft Access 2000 or later)) to provide insight into the household furnishings that might have been at Gunston Hall during Mason's lifetime. 

It’s rare to see such a focused collection put online and yet it’s very exciting!  It has relevance to any family who lived in the region during the same time period.  It gives us a sense of the household possessions of those living in the neighborhood.

Though this resource has apparently been around for a while it is “new-to-me.” 

You can learn more about the project on the Gunston Hall Plantation page, Probate Inventory Database.

No probate inventory appears in court records for George Mason of Gunston Hall (1725-1792). The lack of this type of documentation makes it a challenge to understand how Gunston Hall was used and furnished. To get a better sense of what Mason owned, staff at Gunston Hall conducted an extensive study of the possessions owned by people who lived in the proximate time period and region, and who belonged to the upper classes of society. The main sources of this information were the local probate records.



What other databases are you aware of which were collected for a narrow purpose or particular reason and which have subsequently been made available online?


What new-to-you neat resource have you recently come across?

























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