Elizabeth Hobbes Keckley

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907)

Born near here in Dinwiddie County in 1818, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907) (sometimes Keckly) was a dressmaker and abolitionist. She lived as a slave in Virginia and North Carolina but eventually bought her freedom in 1855. By 1860 she had relocated to Baltimore and then to Washington, D.C. Because of her dressmaking skills, she became the seamstress, personal maid, and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s wife.

Location

Rte 1 (N of Sappony Creek), Dewitt, VA 23840
  • <p>Elizabeth Keckley, 1861, dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln.</p> <p>Elizabeth Keckley, 1861, dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln.</p>

In 1868, Keckley’s account, Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, appeared and met with criticism from Mrs. Lincoln for its candor. Keckley died in 1907.

Marker: S-85, Virginia Department of Historic Resources (2011)

  • <p>Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861 wearing what is believed to be the ball gown that Keckly made for Lincoln's Inaugural festivities.</p> <p>Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861 wearing what is believed to be the ball gown that Keckly made for Lincoln's Inaugural festivities.</p>