Making Sense of Time: Using a 2-Cent Coin to Follow the Johnson Family from Sherwood Forest Plantation to Fredericksburg


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Project Type

Oral Presentation

Publication Date


Department or Program

Historic Preservation


College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor #1

McMillan, Lauren


After the Civil War, many recently freed African Americans found themselves in a position of new economic freedoms. Using an 1865 2-Cent coin found at Sherwood Forest Plantation (44ST615) by the University of Mary Washington archaeological field school students, I will explore the lives of the Johnson family- an African American family who occupied the former slave quarter during the Postbellum period from which the coin was recovered. The Johnsons’ story provides a narrative of African American farm laborers during this period and their struggles for economic and educational freedom. Many freedmen still faced economic and social discrimination after the Civil War, and in response the Freedman’s Bureau and African American led organizations were formed to promote financial independence and education. This paper will focus on the new lives as freedmen the Johnsons had, and the different ways they used their salaries to better their lives and the lives of their children.

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