“The Ways of Letters and Words”
Sewing was a constant chore for the women of Arlington House. Members of the Custis-Lee family and the enslaved community gathered here to make and mend clothing for the plantation’s residents. The Custis-Lee family also used this space as a schoolroom.
Mary Lee learned to read and write here, as did her seven children.The women of the family also taught enslaved workers to read,although it was against the law in Virginia.
Mary Fitzhugh Custis, George Washington Parke Custis’ wife, managed the household during her lifetime. She led both the sewing circle and reading lessons for the enslaved.
Found in the attic in 1928, this globe has never left the property. The family likely used it to teach geography, both to the Lee children and to the enslaved.
“It can never be wrong to teach them that Holy Book.”–George Washington Parke Custis