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Published on Feb 18, 2011
Madam C.J. Walker, one of the great American entrepreneurs of the early 20th century, was born to former slaves and grew up in destitution. In this Inside the Vaults video short, her great-great granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles, tells Madam Walker's story with help from documents in the National Archives.
Bundles, a former broadcast network news executive and President of the Foundation for the National Archives, is the author of "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker." She drew on documents in the Archives to depict the Louisiana plantation on which Madam Walker was born, Walker's early life as an orphan and washerwoman, and ultimately her triumph as one of the creators of the modern hair care and cosmetics industry. Bundles also found some surprises in the Archives: Madam Walker's philanthropy and civil rights activism led to her being targeted by the federal government as a "subversive negro."
Inside the Vaults includes highlights from the National Archives in the Washington, DC, area and from the Presidential libraries and regional archives nationwide. These shorts present behind-the-scenes exclusives and offer surprising stories about the National Archives treasures. See more from Inside the Vaults at http://bit.ly/LzQNae.