Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lincoln Movie & the Keckley Quilt

If you've seen the Lincoln movie, you know that one of the most intriguing characters is Elizabeth Keckley, who, in the movie as in life, was a close confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln.

Keckley was an extraordinary person who suffered greatly as a slave, but was eventually able to purchase freedom and send her son to college, in part due to her needlework skills.


Incredible as it may seem, Keckley left behind a quilt which is said to have been made from scraps from creating Mrs. Lincoln's dresses.

A better view of the quilt is on page 2 of this article. The quilt resides at the Kent State University Museum, in Ohio. The museum produced a brief video, highlighting its dress fabrics and poignant liberty-themed embroideries, here.

The story of  Elizabeth and Mary has a sad ending.  Mary Lincoln, and the public, never forgave Elizabeth for sharing confidential information in her memoirs, Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. She died in poverty. Learn more about Keckley here.  


Postscript: Another fascinating thing about the movie is how similar the actors look and/or were made up to resemble the historical figures. Slate Magazine did a terrific side-by-side comparison, including Keckley and the actress who played her, Gloria Reuben. 


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