“My great grandmother Rose / mother of Ashley gave her this sack when / she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina / it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of / pecans a braid of Rose’s hair. Told her / It be filled with my Love always / she never saw her again / Ashley is my grandmother / Ruth Middleton / 1921”
This is the heartbreaking message embroidered on “Ashley’s sack”—a keepsake given to Ashley by her mother Rose in 1850s South Carolina, the last time they saw each other. In All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, Tiya Miles traces the history of this family keepsake and of the women who touched it. With textual records of Rose and Ashley limited to inventory lists including names of the enslaved, Miles nonetheless connects, creates, and presents a history of a resilient mother’s love for her daughter. Through incorporating contemporary accounts, analyzing the environmental history of the region, explaining the significance of the sack’s contents, and writing from her own perspective as a Black woman, she gives the reader a clearer picture of what life was like for enslaved women in South Carolina.
Combining social and environmental history, All That She Carried is a story of remembrance and resilience in the face of dehumanizing violence. Centering Black female experience, it’s a story of the evil of white supremacy, but also of unconditional maternal love. —Brian Tervo, copy cataloging technician, libraries
This book is available through interlibrary loan.