Mary Elizabeth Bowser served Jefferson Davis in the Confederate White House. She was also a spy — for the Union. Bowser's story is one of many collected in Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s new encyclopedia African American Lives.
Gates, director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, co-edited the volume with Evelyn Higginbotham, a Harvard professor of history and African and African American studies. They have also collaborated on other works, including The African American National Biography.