They designed gowns for senators, these black females were remarkable fashion designers in the 1900s

Theodora Aidoo Nov 28, 2019 at 05:00pm

November 28, 2019 at 05:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

November 28, 2019 at 05:00 pm | Opinions & Features

A photograph of Elizabeth Keckley, circa 1861.
Elizabeth Keckley, circa 1861 – Pic Credit: whitehousehistory.org

Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave. She learned her skill from her mother. She persistently put in hard work and determination till she became a successful seamstress, civil rights activist, and author.

Born in February 1818, Keckley was so skillful that she rose through black and white communities alike to become the personal seamstress of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

A quilt said to be made by Elizabeth Keckley from scraps of Mary Todd Lincoln's dresses.
A quilt said to be made by Elizabeth Keckley from scraps of Mary Todd Lincoln’s dresses – Pic Credit: whitehousehistory.org

She had an incredible impact on high-society dresses at that time. Through her dressmaking business in Washington, she also trained African American women to be seamstresses.

However, besides dressmaking, Keckley wrote the book “Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House”, which revealed a lot about her life and the Lincoln family.

Her works can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and Kent State University Museum.

She died in Washington, D.C in 1907.

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