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Jun 10
Thursday 6:30-7:30 pm

Distinguished Speakers Series: Tiya Miles

Date: June 10, 2021
Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family’s Keepsake 

ZOOM Webinar
June 10 | 6:30 pm

Middleton Place Foundation in partnership with the International African American Museum and the Harvard Peabody Museum invites you to join author Tiya Miles for a discussion about her latest book,  All That She Carried.   This extraordinary book traces the life of Ashley’s sack handed down through three generations of Black women. It is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds.
The ZOOM webinar is free, however, registration is required.

Since 2007, Middleton Place Foundation has been a steward of Ashley’s sack, which will be on display at the International African American Museum when it opens in 2022.


About the Book

ALL THAT SHE CARRIED is a story about women, mothers and daughters, who chose the profundity of love over dehumanizing conditions. How much can one bag hold? Ashley’s Sack a rough cotton bag, given by an enslaved woman named Rose to her daughter, Ashley, before their forced separation, reveals one object’s capacity to hold onto history and to keep love for generations. Ashley’s granddaughter, Ruth, inherited the sack and embroidered it with just a handful of words that evoke her family’s sweeping story of loss and of love. It reads:

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 handfuls of

pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her

It be filled with my Love always

she never saw her again

Ashley is my grandmother

Ruth Middleton


Building on Ruth’s words, Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records and draws on objects and art, to follow the paths of their lives—and the lives of so many women like them—in a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.

But what makes Miles’s book revolutionary is that she shows us how these threadbare pieces of the historic record are vital TODAY as we stare down a difficult future. ALL THAT SHE CARRIED is not simply a history of dark times, as necessary as they 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, tools to hold onto the hope for a future against steep odds—as we look to create our own future, a future that includes facing things such as police brutality and climate change.

About the Author
Tiya Miles is professor of history and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Miles is the author of The Dawn of Detroit, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, among other honors, as well as the acclaimed books Ties That Bind, The House on Diamond Hill, The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts, and Tales from the Haunted South, a published lecture series.

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