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. 

2018 Tour Season Opens May 19th!

Our 2018 tour season opens 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.

“An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery” with author Rachel May

Wednesday, May 23, 7:30 p.m. 

We are delighted to announce Rachel May‘s return to our site to discuss her book published on May 1st, 2018: An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery.

Following the trail left by an unfinished quilt, this illuminating saga examines slavery from the cotton fields of the South to the textile mills of New England– and the humanity behind it.

May’s new book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era–all through the discovery of a remarkable quilt. While studying objects in a textile collection, she opened a veritable treasure-trove: a carefully folded, unfinished quilt made of 1830’s-era fabrics, its backing containing fragile, aged papers that mentioned “shuger”, “rum”, and “West Indies”. The quilt top sent May on a journey to piece together the story of the women behind it– both enslaved and free.

May is the author of Quilting with a Modern Slant, a 2014 Library Journal and Best Book of the Year. She is an assistant professor at Northern Michigan University. Copies of An American Quilt will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

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

Save the Date for 2018’s Giving Voice Featured Speaker Historian Hasan Kwame Jeffries on “Teaching Hard History”

Photo by Jo McCulty

Sunday, September 23, 2018

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries will be the featured speaker at our annual benefit event this fall.

Associate Professor of History at the Ohio State University and author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, Professor Jeffries hosts the “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery” podcast, a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project.

In his preface to the project’s new report on the broad failure of textbooks, state standards, and pedagogy to adequately address this critical topic with students, he writes “Slavery wasn’t in the past. It’s in the headlines”. Please join us this fall to hear more.

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

Note: Kate Clifford Larson’s talk on Harriet Tubman has been postponed to October 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. due to inclement weather. 

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 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.

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

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.

“In Honor of the Enslaved Whose Labor Created Wealth That Made Possible the Founding of Harvard Law School”

Harvard Law School was founded in 1817 through a bequest from Isaac Royall Jr., whose family’s significant wealth was largely derived from the labor of enslaved people on Antiguan sugar plantations. We were honored to be present at the unveiling of this memorial “In honor of the enslaved whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of Harvard Law School.”

Royall Professor of Law Janet Halley “read aloud the known names of enslaved men, women, and children of the Royall household from records that have survived. She noted that many of the names—just first names, with no last names—were probably not the original names that had been given to these individuals at birth.

“‘These names then are the tattered ruined remains, the accidents of recording, and the encrustation of a system that sought to convert human beings into property,’ Halley said. ‘But they’re our tattered ruined remains, and I thought I would devote my remarks to reading them out.'”

You can read more about the unveiling in articles from Boston MagazineHarvard Law Today, the Harvard Gazette, and Harvard Magazine.