Student Resources: History & Social Studies

Elizabeth Keckly: “My Dear Mother”

Created February 29, 2016

Elizabeth Keckly was a remarkable woman who was born into slavery in 1818 just south of the major market center of Petersburg, Virginia. She learned her craft—sewing—from her mother, who was an expert seamstress enslaved in the Burwell family. When Reverend Burwell, Keckly’s master and half-brother (they shared a father) relocated to Hillsborough, North Carolina, in 1832, she soon followed. Six years later, Anna Burwell, Keckly’s mistress, started a school for young girls in the family home, with an already over-worked Keckly charged as the sole servant.