Slavery and motherhood for the mistress

From John Hennessy:

Betty Herndon Maury

I have always been struck by this short passage from the diary of Betty Herndon Maury, Matthew Fontaine Maury’s daughter.  She wrote it on September 6, 1861, a few weeks after the departure (for what cause she does not say) of the family’s house slave, Rebecca, leaving Betty and other members of the household to tend things formerly taken care of by slaves, including parenting  

Made Nanny Belle a rag baby last night. She is more delighted with it than with the finest wax doll. It is the first time that I ever took the time or trouble to devote an hour solely to her amusement.

Nanny Belle was five years old.

Carolyn Carpenter has edited, expanded, and had published Betty Herndon Maury’s diary, as part of the most recent issue of the CVBT Journal. You can find it for sale here.  It is one of the best.

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