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An Enslaved Woman and her Dressmaker Daughter in Bath County, Virginia

Exciting News: Sponsored by the Bath County Historical Society, I have been awarded a grant by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to document the life and needlework skills of Elizabeth Morris Bolden, daughter of an enslaved woman in Warm Springs, Virginia.

Because 19th century textiles with an African American provenance are extremely rare nationwide and unheard of in Appalachia, the existence of Bolden’s handwork and photographs of the maker that remain in the family-of-origin is an extraordinary discovery. Photographic preservation of the two quilts made by Bolden will enable future generations to appreciate the needlework skills of the daughter of slave who lived and worked in a small community in rural Virginia.

The documentation of Bolden’s personal story and understanding her place in society coupled with visual images of her work is new and historically important information to present to a diverse audience.

I will present three programs in April:

  1. April 23 at the Colonial Education Center at the Lynnhaven House, Virginia Beach. Sponsored by the City of Virginia Beach’s Historic Houses.
  2. April 24 at the Commodore Theatre, Portsmouth, Virginia in partnership with the Portsmouth Cultural Center. Sponsored by The Department of Museums, Portsmouth.
  3. April 27 at the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Warm Springs, Virginia. Sponsored by the Bath County Historical Society.
  4. Additional programs can be scheduled by contacting Kathleen Curtis Wilson


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