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. 

For regular public programs, admission is free for members and $10 for non-members. Tickets are available for purchase at the door unless otherwise noted. 

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

Monday, November 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Independent historian Kevin Levin, who spoke here last fall about Confederate monuments and the memory of slavery, will discuss his latest book.

More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, scores of websites, articles, and organizations repeat claims that free and enslaved African Americans fought willingly as soldiers in the Confederate army. But, as Kevin Levin argues in this carefully researched book, such claims would have shocked anyone who served in the army during the war itself.

Mr. Levin explains that imprecise contemporary accounts, poorly understood primary source material, and other misrepresentations helped fuel the rise of the black Confederate myth – and, he shows that belief in the existence of black Confederate soldiers largely originated in the 1970’s, a period that witnessed both a significant shift in how Americans remembered the Civil War and a rising backlash against African Americans’ gains in civil rights and other realms.

This new book investigates the roles that African Americans did perform for the Confederate army, serving as personal body servants and forced laborers. Levin demonstrates that regardless of the dangers these men faced in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield, their legal status remained unchanged.

Copies of Searching for Black Confederates will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Black Radical: the Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter’s essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes.

William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working-class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post-Reconstruction America.

For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Synthesizing years of archival research, historian Kerri Greenidge renders the drama of turn-of-the-century America and reclaims Trotter as a seminal figure, whose prophetic, yet ultimately tragic, life offers a link between the vision of Frederick Douglass and black radicalism in the modern era.

Dr. Kerri Greenidge is Director of the American Studies Program at Tufts University and co-Director of the African American Trail Project at the Tufts Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

Copies of Black Radical will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Holiday Shopping Day

Saturday, December 7, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Our museum gift shop at 15 George Street, Medford, Massachusetts will be open for holiday shopping on Saturday, December 7th this year. Shop for handcrafted items including organic soaps, tumbled shard brooches, hand-dipped beeswax candles, and eighteenth-century games, toys, and crafts. Museum cards, bookmarks, magnets, and mugs make perfect gifts. An assortment of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children – with several titles autographed by their authors – will appeal to history lovers of any age.

All museum shop proceeds support the work of the Royall House and Slave Quarters.

Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New England

Wednesday, December 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Shortly after the first Europeans arrived in 17th century New England, they began to enslave the area’s indigenous peoples and import kidnapped Africans. By the eve of the American Revolution, enslaved people comprised only about 4% of the population, but slavery had become instrumental to the region’s economy and had shaped its cultural traditions.

In this concise yet comprehensive history, Jared Ross Hardesty focuses on the individual stories of enslaved people in New England, bringing their experiences to life. He also explores the importance of slavery to the colonization of the region and to agriculture and industry, New England’s deep connections to Caribbean plantation societies, and the significance of emancipation movements in the era of the American Revolution.

Dr. Jared Hardesty is an Associate Professor of History at Western Washington University. He is the author of Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston. Copies of Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Save the Date: Public Programs in 2020

Transcendentalists, Abolitionists, John Brown, and Beyond: The New Englanders Who Made John Brown a Hero. Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 7:00 PM. Historian Richard Smith will speak at the Medford Historical Society & Museum about the aftermath of Brown’s Raid. Co-sponsored by the Medford Historical Society & Museum and the Medford Public Library.

Slavery’s Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and ReconciliationWednesday, January 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Co-Editor Dionne Ford and contributor Catherine Sasanov will discuss this collection by writers from a variety of backgrounds – all members of Coming to the Table, a national racial reconciliation organization – recounting their stories of dealing with America’s racial past through their experiences and their family histories.

The Last & Living Words of Mark: Following the Clues to the Enslaved Man’s Life, Afterlife, and Community. Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Mark was an enslaved Charlestown blacksmith, husband, and father. Accused of petit treason after he and co-conspirators were discovered in the poisoning death of their enslaver John Codman, in 1755 Mark was tried and found guilty, hanged, and gibbeted. Twenty years later, Paul Revere mentioned the gruesome landmark “where Mark was hung in chains” in describing his midnight ride. Poet and independent scholar Catherine Sasanov will explore the haunting details of Mark’s short life.