Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (ca. 1820-1907)

Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation

Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation
Pleasantville, United States

Born a slave, Elizabeth Keckley became Mary Todd Lincoln’s exclusive dress designer in the White House. In 1855 Keckley managed to purchase her freedom and that of her son. A brilliant seamstress, Keckley was presented to the First Lady in 1861 and became the sole creator of Mary Lincoln’s event wardrobe. Keckley witnessed the intimate existence of the Lincolns and penned Behind the Scenes (1868), which detailed their life in the White House. The book was harshly criticized as a transgression of class and color lines. Keckley died in the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children, in Washington, D.C


  • Title: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (ca. 1820-1907)
  • Physical Dimensions: Photographic print
  • Subject Keywords: African American freed slave
  • Type: Photograph
  • Date: ca. 1861

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