In honor of Black History Month and to recognize Dr. Tiya Miles for the prestigious National Book Club Award Winner for All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake. “Ashley’s Sack” will be on display in the Museum at Middleton Place National Historic Landmark during the month of February.
For Middleton Place Foundation, “Ashley’s Sack” is one of the most revered and relevant objects in the collection. The rough cotton bag is embroidered with a handful of words that evoke a family story of loss and love, passed down through generations.
In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose gave this sack to her nine-year old daughter, Ashley, when she was separated from her mother and sold. Its contents held a few precious items to ensure the child’s survival and as a token of love and remembrance. Decades later, Ashley’s great-granddaughter Ruth embroidered this story on the bag, accenting Rose’s wish that “it be filled with my love always.”
Inspired by Rose’s gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives—and the lives of so many women like them. All That She Carried is not simply a history of dark times, as necessary as they are to confront, but about rediscovering the tools that Black women invented—tools to preserve and pass down love, tools to rescue stories, and tools to hold onto the hope that knowing the realities of our shared history can bring about a more unified and positive future.
“Ashley’s Sack” presence in the Museum is not only a reminder of the brutality of slavery but a testament to the resilience and love shared by generations of women who faced almost insurmountable odds.
The Middleton Place Museum is open Tuesday- Sunday 10am-4:00pm and Monday 12:00pm-4:00pm.