J. R. Anderson's housekeeper
Though in poor condition, this hand-colored, quarter-length daguerreotype captures an unidentified free black woman who worked in Joseph Reid Anderson's household. The housekeeper sports a colorful dress and a prominent piece of jewelry. Her employer was an enormously successful entrepreneur and powerful political presence in Richmond, where he headed the Tredegar ironworks. Anderson reported that his real and personal estate was valued at $755,000 in 1860—an amount exceeded by only one other Richmond citizen. During the Civil War Anderson often entertained high-ranking Confederate officers in his columned mansion on Franklin Street; he also had many political friends and contacts in the Confederate Congress, including access to the president, Jefferson Davis.