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.


“Belinda the African: Compelled to Servitude” Returns to the Area for Black History Month

On Sunday, February 12, from 2-4 p.m., storyteller Tammy Denease brought her interpretation of Belinda Sutton, enslaved some 50 years by Isaac Royall, to our neighboring community of Winchester, Massachusetts. The program was held at St. Mary’s Parish Hall, 162 Washington Street. Admission was free and open to all.

Renowned storyteller Tammy Denease presented the lives of important, yet too often forgotten or obscure, black women in history. Her performance was co-sponsored by St. Mary‘s Parish Peace & Justice Ministry and the Winchester Multicultural Network, thanks to a grant from Cummings Foundation. More information here.

The morning of Monday, February 13, with our sincere thanks to Cummings Foundation and also to the Medford Public Schools, the Royall House and Slave Quarters had arranged for “Belinda” to tell her story to all 400 of Medford’s 5th graders, providing background for their spring tour of our museum, a decades-old community tradition. Unfortunately, the event was postponed due to a snowstorm; stay tuned for updates.

Shown here, Ms. Denease introduced Belinda to last year’s 5th graders through the generosity of Cummings Foundation, Tufts University, Eastern Bank, and East Cambridge Savings Bank.


Colonial Comics, Volumes I & II

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

J. L. Bell, a co-editor of and contributor to Colonial Comics, will lead a panel of participating authors and illustrators discussing the stories and artwork that make up this innovative graphic anthology series on New England’s history. Volume I told lesser known stories of the years 1620-1750, and the new Volume II features the period 1750-1775.

Featuring an array of writing and illustration styles, the series tells stories about Puritans and free thinkers, Pequots and Jewish settlers, female business owners and playwrights, gravedigging medical students, instigators of civil disobedience, college students, rum traders, freemen, and slaves.

J. L. Bell is a Massachusetts historian and writer whose Boston 1775 blog offers history, analysis, and unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution in Massachusetts. He is the author of a comprehensive historic research study for the National Park Service on the Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, and his book The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War came out last spring.  Jesse Lonergan illustrated the Colonial Comics story about Crispus Attucks, and is the author-illustrator of the graphic novels All Star, Flower and Fade, and Joe and Azat.  E.J. Barnes wrote and illustrated a story in Volume I about a conflict among two groups of Puritan settlers and the Native groups they settled among. She’s a Cambridge artist working on other history comics, as well.

Copies of both volumes of Colonial Comics will be available for purchase and signing.

Free admission for RH&SQ members; $5 for all others.


The Slave Cabin Project with Ifé Franklin

Saturday, April 29 at 2 PM – 4 PM 

Ifé is coming back!

Teaching artist Ifé Franklin will again guide workshop participants in creating small cabin-like structures of their own design to take home with them. Participants will work with fabric, shells, raffia, beads, and buttons to creatively interpret these miniature dwelling spaces.

Using the artist’s Indigo Project for inspiration, these small creations are reminiscent of slave cabins, designed to honor the ancestral spirits of Africans who were 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.

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.

Ms. Franklin will lead a 2-hour workshop for up to 20 participants. Children ages 7-12 are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. The workshop will include a brief museum tour and light refreshments.

Fee is $10 for RH&SQ or Historic New England members and $15 for all others. Preregistration is required.

To register, please email, indicating the names of attendees, and whether you are a member of either sponsoring organization.

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

Enjoy these photos of our November 2016 workshop:


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

Monday, May 1 at 7:30 PM – 9 PM  
Please note the date change from our usual Wednesday evening.

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. 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

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

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 Robin 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