News and Events

Unless otherwise noted, all lectures and book talks are held in the Slave Quarters located at 15 George Street in Medford, Massachusetts. Visit our Directions and Map page for more information.


Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Ona Judge: Book talk by historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Postponed. New date TBD.  

George Washington skirted Philadelphia’s anti-slavery laws during his 6-year presidency there, cycling enslaved people in and out every six months to avoid the city’s time limit on slaveholding. But he met his match in Ona Judge, who managed to steal herself away from our nation’s first president in 1796. Although the Washingtons pursued her until the end of their lives, Judge lived as a free woman until her death in New Hampshire in 1848.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, University of Delaware professor of Black American Studies and History, will discuss and sign her new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, the first full-length account of this fascinating woman’s life.

Never Caught is the compelling story of Ona Judge Staines, the woman who successfully defied George and Martha Washington in order to live as free woman. With vivid prose and deep sympathy, Dunbar paints a portrait of a woman whose life reveals the contradictions at the heart of the American founding: men like Washington fought for liberty for themselves even as they kept people like Ona Staines in bondage. There is no way to really know the Washingtons without knowing this story.” — Annette Gordon Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

This program is part of the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area’s annual Hidden Treasures celebration. Click here to view the 2017 Hidden Treasures celebration brochure. Admission is free.


New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America: A Book talk by historian Wendy Warren

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 – 7:30 p.m. Please note the date change.

New England Bound reclaims the lives of long-forgotten enslaved Africans and Native Americans in the seventeenth century. Based on new evidence, Warren’s book links the growth of the northern colonies to the Atlantic slave trade, demonstrating how New England’s economy derived its vitality from the profusion of slave-trading ships coursing through its ports.

“Here is a picture of Puritan New England far different from the ‘city upon a hill’ that John Winthrop hoped he and the other first settlers would leave for posterity. It opens with the kidnapping of a Patuxet Indian. It closes with one of the wealthiest men in Massachusetts justifying the enslavement and sale of Africans.

“Warren’s theme in New England Bound—the place of slavery in the making of colonial New England—echoes preoccupations of the moment in the writing of American history, as the pervasive influence of slavery on the nation, its institutions and its cultures attains wider recognition. In time, perhaps, this perspective will no longer surprise, and even now, few familiar with colonial American history will be astonished by Warren’s account. She builds on and generously acknowledges more than two generations of research into the social history of New England and the economic history of the Atlantic world. But not only has she mastered that scholarship, she has also brought it together in an original way, and deepened the story with fresh research.” — New York Times Book Review

Assistant professor of history at Princeton University, Wendy Warren specializes in the history of colonial North America, and the early modern Atlantic World. She is particularly interested in the day-to-day practice of colonization, and in the negotiations and conflicts that exist between would-be rulers and the unruly. Professor Warren is the recipient of the Organization of American Historians’ 2017 Merle Curti Award for the best book published in American intellectual history, and New England Bound was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in history.  She received her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

Copies of New England Bound will be available for purchase and signing.

Please note that a brief annual business meeting will precede the program. Free admission for RH&SQ members; $5 for all others.


The Royall House and Slave Quarters is featured in a new episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class

Thanks to our new friends Tracy and Holly at Stuff You Missed in History Class for this terrific video about the Royall House & Slave Quarters. It’s about 7 minutes long, and we truly hope you’ll spend the time, especially if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to tour our museum.
Link to: Past News and Events