Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith and Cornel West eds., Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Simon & Schuster MacMillan), s.v. “Keckley, Elizabeth.”
After the assassination of President Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and Keckley remained close friends until 1868, when Keckley’s diaries were published as a book, Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. Mary Todd Lincoln considered the book a betrayal and broke off her relationship with Keckley. Even several noted African Americans criticized Keckleyt for what they believed to be a dishonorable attack on “the Great Emancipator.” Nonetheless, the book has long been considered an invaluable resource for scholars of the Lincoln presidency. It reveals much about the personalities of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, their family life, and their opinions about government officials. The memoir also offers an intimate depiction of Keckley’s life in slavery, particularly of the sexual violence she endured as a teenager. While its accuracy has not been questioned, the book’s true authorship has been subject of considerable debate.