NLM logo


“Every Necessary Care and Attention”: George Washington and Medicine presents the following classroom resources for K-12 educators and college/university faculty. The resources offer examples of how the rich content and primary sources in the exhibition can be used to promote students’ developing content knowledge as well as higher order thinking skills. Educators are welcome to adapt these resources in whole or in part as they deem most appropriate for students’ interests and academic goals.

Lesson Plans

George Washington: Primary Sources

  • grade level: 5–8
  • subject: history and social studies

This lesson plan is prepared in connection with the study of U.S. history, specifically the Revolutionary War period and George Washington. Students define what primary and secondary sources are. They then use and analyze several primary and secondary sources from the online exhibition to learn about how George Washington worked to ensure the health and safety of others under his care—troops, as well as family, servants, and slaves living at his Mount Vernon estate.

George Washington: Then and Now

  • grade level: 7–9
  • subject: history and social studies

Students examine primary and secondary sources from the exhibition to learn about several health issues and treatments that George Washington dealt with in caring for those under his charge—troops, family, servants, and slaves. Students consider the knowledge and practice of medicine during the American Revolutionary and Early Republic eras. They investigate how those health issues are being understood and treated in our own time and present their findings in posters as well as in written essays.

The lesson plans are developed in collaboration with Janet Collier (Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC), with contributions by the 2012 Teacher Institute participants—Lynn Folk (Myersville Elementary School, Myersville, MD), Anne Ledford (Stuart-Hobson Middle School, Washington, DC), Scott Sherwood (Belmont Ridge Middle School Leesburg, VA), and Lynn Wiegand (North West High School, Germantown, MD).

Higher Education

George Washington and Medicine

The module offers to college and university students and their professors a means by which to explore George Washington’s experiences of medical theory and practice in the context of 18th-century America, in his own experience and in his roles as a head of household, military commander, and plantation owner. It takes the exhibition itself as a point of departure and builds upon it through suggestions regarding additional primary and secondary-source readings, images, and possibilities for class discussion, with the aim of helping students to enrich and deepen their intellectual experience of the exhibition.

George Washington and Medicine is authored by Natalie Zacek, PhD, a lecturer in American History at the University of Manchester.

Online Activities

George Washington’s Teeth

Learn about George Washington’s problems with his teeth, personal dental items, and dentist.

Unexpected Illness

Read an 1860 publication detailing the symptoms and treatments of Washington’s last illness in 1799.

Other Resources

Continue to explore Washington’s life with the suggested readings and online resources recommended by the exhibition curators and Anne Ledford, a former school librarian at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, Washington, D.C.

Continue to Other Resources