THE BLOG
07/27/2016 02:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Nelly Custis Lewis's Tomato Soup And Life As A Plantation Matron

As an Inner Loop Lit Fellow at the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture at Woodlawn, I am fascinated by the site's food history. Woodlawn was the Alexandria, Virginia estate of George Washington's granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis. Naturally, as the matron of the plantation, Nelly kept a housekeeping book, which included some of her favorite recipes for meals prepared by Woodlawn slaves. Despite her high level of education, Nelly had no other choice but to marry and become a lady of the house. Her brother, meanwhile, had a wealth of career options that were unavailable to her. While Nelly lived a comfortable life enabled by slave labor, I imagine that she also felt incredibly frustrated by her limited choices as a woman. To honor Nelly's work and capture her position in life, I have created one graphic of her beloved tomato soup recipe, as well as a poetry graphic about her destiny as a plantation matron. Similar Quaker and slave graphics tied to Woodlawn's food history are forthcoming.

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