Virginia Changemakers
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  • Collection: Civil War and Reconstruction

Isabella Gibbons learned to read while enslaved and later educated hundreds of African Americans as a teacher in the freedmen's schools and public schools of Charlottesville.


Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly.jpg
Seamstress and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, former slave Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly wrote a book detailing her life and experiences in the White House.
Dinwiddie County

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For his bravery during battle in the American Civil War, Sergeant William H. Carney was the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor.


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Elizabeth Van Lew oversaw an effective and significant Union spy network during the Civil War.

VWH 2001_Tompkins.jpg
Appointed a captain in the Confederate army, Sally Tompkins managed a hospital in Richmond during the Civil War.

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Kate Mason Rowland is best known for her biography of her great-great-granduncle George Mason.

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly.jpg
Seamstress Elizabeth Keckly bought her freedom and later served as dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln at the White House.
Dinwiddie County

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A teacher and principal for more than thirty years, Sarah A. Gray had a profound influence on the education of African Americans in Alexandria.


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A Unionist during the Civil War, Caroline Bradby Cook protected, preserved, and passed on the Pamunkey heritage.
King William County

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Having experienced as a slave the devastation of separated families, Lucy Goode Brooks founded the Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans.
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