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. 

 Thank You: Giving Voice 2018!

We are truly grateful to all those who participated in helping us put on Giving Voice 2018 with Professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries. We want to say a special thank you to our lead sponsors — Tufts University and Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency — as well as recognize all those who helped make our annual fundraiser such a success: 

Business Sponsors
Tufts University
Medford Rotary Club
Pompeo & Sons Insurance
emdesign | graphic design studio
Mystic Coffee Roaster
Modern Hardware

Benefactors
Michael Baenen
Margaret Ranft Day
Peter Gittleman

Supporters
Barbara Berenson
Margen Kelsey and Mark Pine
Mike Oliver and Beverly Cohen
Gracelaw Simmons and Michael Durney

Donors
Janet Axelrod
Michael Cerullo
Sarah B. Cummer
Anne Donaghy
David and Susan Fedo
Amanda Hadad
Theresa Kelliher
Ken Krause and Maura McEnaney
Tom Lincoln and Donna Brallier
Diane MacDonald
Daniel Markson

Friends
Sarah Abramson
Liz Ammons
Brad Austin
Doug Carr and Donna Laquidara-Carr
Patricia Crow
William Davis
Joseph Kelliher
May Marquebreuck
Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti
Barbara Strell
Joann and Allan Winkler
Ann Zantos

Sincere thanks to the guests, staff, and volunteers who helped make this event possible. 

Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land, with Historian Kate Clifford Larson

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. 

Known widely as a simple and courageous mother figure, in fact Harriet Tubman was an intelligent, crafty, fearless visionary who transcended assumptions about black women’s abilities, leading scores of enslaved people to freedom. Drawing from a trove of primary documents as well as extensive genealogical research, historian Kate Clifford Larson‘s Bound for the Promised Land reveals Tubman as a complex woman–brilliant, shrewd, deeply religious, and passionate in her pursuit of freedom.

Since writing the first adult biography of Tubman, Professor Larson has consulted with numerous public history initiatives related to Harriet Tubman’s life and her role in the Underground Railroad. At this expanded book talk, she’ll discuss new scholarship about Tubman–including the recently discovered portrait of her as a young woman–and recent efforts A to memorialize this brave hero in her native Maryland and in New York State.

Copies of Bound for the Promised Land will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

This event is part of Arts Across Medford, a month-long festival curated by CACHE. 

Free admission for members; non-members, $10.

The 2018 Tour Season Is Winding Down; Visit Soon!

Our 2018 tour season opened on Saturday, May 19th and will continue through Sunday, October 28th. Guided tours are offered at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is always free for members; we charge modest admissions fees to non-members.

Please note: the museum will be closed to the general public on Sunday, September 23, 2018 for Giving Voice, our annual fundraising event.

Artist Ifé Franklin will join us for two special programs this fall: 

Readings from The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae 

Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

On November 3, interdisciplinary artist Ifé Franklin will read from her powerful new book written in the voice of her great-grandmother, Willie Mae McCain, who was born in Virginia on the threshold of emancipation. The narrative brings to life Willie Mae’s journey from enslavement to freedom. Her reading will include time for an audience Q&A, and copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. Free admission.  

A graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Ifé Franklin has worked as a professional artist for more than 25 years. She specializes in indigo-dyed textiles, using resist and dyeing techniques from West African culture. Ms. Franklin has taught textile and other art forms at the Eliot School for Applied Arts and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows at several Boston-area galleries and her indigo-dyed fabric-wrapped “Slave Cabin” is part of the Fitchburg Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Copies of The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Admission to Ms. Franklin’s book reading is free. 

Hands-on Slave Cabin Project Workshop 

Saturday, November 3, 2018 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. – Reservations Required 

Beginning at 2:30 p.m., artist Ifé Franklin will also lead a 2-hour hands-on Slave Cabin workshop for 20 participants. She will guide participants in using materials such as fabric, shells, raffia, and beads to creatively interpret miniature cabin-like structures of their own design to take home with them.

Using the artist’s Indigo Project for inspiration, these small creations are reminiscent of slave cabins, designed to honor the ancestral spirits of Africans enslaved throughout colonial America. Ms. Franklin describes them as “wishes or gifts to the spirits of these ancestors, who never had a home of beauty, or even a home of their own.” She has led similar workshops as the featured guest artist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.

Children ages 7-12 are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. The workshop will include a brief museum tour and light refreshments.

The workshop fee is $10 for RH&SQ members or Historic New England members, and $15 for all others. To purchase tickets, please visit our Eventbrite listing here.

This workshop is co-sponsored by Historic New England and supported in part by a grant from the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

A Stain on an All-American Brand: How Brooks Brothers Once Clothed Slaves

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Like many northern commercial institutions, Brooks Brothers — celebrating its bicentennial this year — benefited from the institution of slavery. The storied clothier’s livery department provided garments for coachmen, footmen, and chauffeurs in wealthy American households, including those in the antebellum South.

This illustrated talk by Jonathan Michael Square, a writer and historian specializing in the fashion and visual culture of the African Diaspora, will explore this intriguing connection.

Dr. Square is currently a lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University. He founded and edits the digital humanities project Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom — a curated platform that explores intersections between slavery and the fashion system on various social media platforms.

Copies of the first “Fashioning the Self” print magazine will be available for purchase and signing at the talk.

Free admission for RHS&Q members; $10 for non-members

Starting Small and Making It Big: A New Book by Bill Cummings

As the very grateful recipient of two “$100K for 100” grants from Cummings Foundation, our organization has benefited not only from substantial financial resources but also from the generous publicity that comes with the foundation’s support.

It turns out that publicity extends to Starting Small and Making it Big, the new memoir by Bill Cummings. We are enormously proud to be mentioned in this inspiring book. Bill’s thoughtful, nearly-page long description of our organization’s work begins: “While the vast majority of the mostly small charities supported by the foundation’s ‘$100K for 100’ program were previously unknown to Joyce or me, every so often we personally add a grant recipient that is ‘close to home’ for us. One such grantee was the Royall House & Slave Quarters on Main Street, Medford which has lately been diligently unearthing parts of Medford’s long-hidden colonial history”. 

Through a generous arrangement with the foundation, we’re now selling autographed copies in our museum shop. A portion of the proceeds go to our museum, with the balance to the Cummings Foundation to support continued grantmaking in our neighborhood communities.

By purchasing Starting Small for yourself — or perhaps as a gift — you too will be giving back. And we know you’ll be inspired by what you read. This great review offers more detail.