Selina Gray

Selina Gray was the daughter of Sally and Leonard Norris and a second generation of Custis slaves. She was Mrs. Lee’s personal maid and seamstress. When the Lees were forced to leave the house, Mrs. Lee left the household keys to Selina Gray. She also left Gray in charge of protecting the family items and the Washington artifacts that had to be left behind. Many of these were saved from the Union soldiers because of Gray’s efforts. She went to General Irvin McDowell to inform him of the importance of the Washington pieces so that he would help to protect them.

Without Selina Gray, many of the original pieces that are currently in Arlington House would never have survived the Civil War. Her daughters were also instrumental in providing information about the house and plantation during the restoration of Arlington House. The Gray family also donated several original objects that had been in their family for many years.

Paper, L 25.4, W 20.4 cm
Arlington Reference Collection, Courtesy of Henry Gray Gillem