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Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley

Fashion Designer

February, 1818


Elizabeth Keckley Biography, Life, Interesting Facts

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born into slavery in Dinwiddie Country, Virginia in 1818. Her childhood was hard, and she began assisting in the household at a young age.

Education

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was taught to sew and became a talented seamstress.

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Rise to Fame

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley purchased her freedom in 1855 and worked as a seamstress in St. Louis before moving to Washington, D.C.

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Career

During her time in Washington, D.C. Mary Todd Lincoln became aware of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley's skill as a seamstress and employed her. Initially, Keckley was Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, and over time, the two women became friends, and she served as Lincoln’s travelling companion and confidante.
Around the time of her period at the White House, Keckley organised education programmers for free slaves. She was also involved in the organisation of relief efforts.

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Later Years

After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley wrote a memoir Behind the Science, Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House and Lincoln’s widow objected to the book. The publication of the memoir put an end to the friendship between the two women and Keckley's dressmaking business suffered.

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Personal Life

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley had one child, a son Walter who served in the U.S. Army and died at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri in August 1861. She never married and died in Washington D.C. in 1907.


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