The Lincoln-Keckley Dress: Slavery, Women's History, and Race

Grade Range: 9-12
Resource Type(s): Lessons & Activities, Interactives & Media, Primary Source
Date Posted: 11/8/2009

This object-based learning activity revolves around a dress that connects the lives of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, a popular African-American dressmaker who lived in Washington, D.C at the time of the Civil War. Students will learn how one object can tell many different stories. The Lincoln-Keckley dress can be examined to learn about slavery, women's history and the realities of racial relations in America in the mid-nineteenth century.  After exploring the Lincoln-Keckley dress and its importance as a source of historical information, students will visit the forum section of the site to hear NMAH curators and historians discuss the object and then use what they have learned to complete a virtual exhibit activity.

This resource is included in The Object of History, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and George Mason University's Center for History and New Media.

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