Profile: Mary Elizabeth Bowser

albertaAlberta Nkrumah, freshman biochemistry major: Mary Elizabeth Bowser was freed by her wealthy woman owner. Mary had a photographic memory and was smart, so her former owner sent her to school in Philadelphia. When Mary came back to Richmond, her former owner, who was part of the Union, sent Mary to work in Jefferson Davis’ house during the final months of the Civil War. Because Davis believed no slave could be educated, Mary was able to overhear conversations related to the war while she cleaned and served food. She memorized the papers she saw and the conversations she heard and got it to the Union.

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