Inkwell given to Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly asked Mary Lincoln for keepsakes from the president and received several items, including this inkwell. In 1874 she presented it to Rev. George Van Deurs, her minister at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington.
Elizabeth Keckly (often spelled Keckley) was born into slavery in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. An accomplished dressmaker, she earned enough money to buy her freedom and her son’s. In 1861 Keckly was living in Washington, D.C., when she was introduced to Mary Lincoln.
Keckly became Mary’s principal dressmaker, a trusted confidant, and an intimate friend. It was a close, complicated, unequal relationship—the women were drawn together by genuine affection and divided by class and race.
Gift of Capt. George Van Deurs, USN, grandson of Rev. George Van Deurs, 1949
Currently not on view
associated person
Lincoln, Abraham
Keckley, Elizabeth
associated institution
White House, The
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
painted (overall production method/technique)
brown, black (overall color)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 3 1/2 in; 4.445 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Capt. George van Deurs, USN
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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