44 pages 1 hour read

Tiya Miles

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2021

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Key Figures

Tiya Miles

Dr. Tiya Miles is the Michael Garvey professor of history at Harvard University, and her research focus is in American history, specifically as it relates to the experiences of women and people of color and the issues of slavery, race, gender, sexuality, and cultural history. She earned a degree in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from Emory University, and her PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. Miles has written six books, including The Dawn of Detroit, for which she won the Frederick Douglass Prize. In All That She Carried, Miles traces the origins of Ashley’s Sack, sorting through historical records often kept by and for male enslavers to uncover the stories of the African American women behind the artifact.


Mother of Ashley and packer of the sack, Rose was an enslaved woman who was part of the Robert Martin household as a domestic servant at the time of his death and her daughter’s sale. The value of $700 assigned to her in the property records amassed after Martin’s death suggests that she possessed a high level of skill, likely in the areas of sewing or cooking. Rose worked at the Martin home in downtown Charleston and was approximately 34 old when she packed the sack for her daughter in December of 1852 or early 1853.