2014 Meeting Programs
February 6th Program Details
Featured Speaker: Rebecca Ryan
"From Slavery to the White House"
Rebecca Ryan, Executive Director of the Historic Hillsborough Commission which operates the Burwell School Historic Site, will be the featured speaker at the February 6 meeting of the Granville County Genealogical Society at 6:30 p.m. in the large conference room of the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford. Her presentation, "From Slavery to the White House" will explore Elizabeth Keckley's extraordinary journey from enslavement in Hillsborough, North Carolina through her time in the Lincoln White House as confidante and dressmaker for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley was recently portrayed by actress Gloria Reuben in the 2012 film, "Lincoln".
In 1835, Elizabeth Keckley moved from Virginia to the Burwell home in Hillsborough with her owner's son, Robert Burwell, and his wife, Margaret Anna. Robert Burwell served as pastor of the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church. Margaret Anna Burwell, a teacher, founded the Burwell School, North Carolina's first modern school for girls, in the home. A number of Granville County women attended the school as girls and many of their descendants still live in the county.
The dressmaking skills that Elizabeth Keckley cultivated in Hillsborough enabled her to earn enough money to buy her freedom in 1855 and move to Washington, D.C. She soon ended up at the White House as Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker.
A South Carolina native, Rebecca Ryan received a Master of Arts in Public History with a specialization in Museum Studies from N.C. State University. She also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Winthrop University. Ryan specialized in women's studies, African-American studies, and the antebellum South during her academic career. In 2010, she became the site manager at the Historic Hillsborough Commission and was promoted to Executive Director the following year. Prior to coming to Hillsborough, Ryan worked in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of History and at the Marbles Kids Museum.
Please join the members of the Granville County Genealogical Society at 6:30 P.M. on February 6, 2014
in the large conference room at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford. Visitors are always welcome and are encouraged to join in this presentation.
All GCGS meetings are open to the public and guests are cordially invited to attend.