Book cover for Master Slave Husband Wife

Behind the Scenes of Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

With Ilyon Woo

Thursday March 9, 2023, at 7pm ET

Cosponsored by the Worcester Black History Project

Approximately 60 minutes. This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Closed captioning will be available for virtual attendees. Doors open at 6:30pm.

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Master Slave Husband Wife tells the remarkable true story of Ellen and William Craft, who escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled White man and William posing as “his” slave. The Crafts’ own 1860 narrative, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, provides a powerful first-hand account of this extraordinary act of mutual self-emancipation. Yet, many mysteries remain that the Crafts would not or could not discuss.

Highlighting her research at the American Antiquarian Society, Woo reveals the extensive archival sleuthing behind the writing of her new book. Among the questions she explores: What were the prices of freedom? Who remained in the world that the Crafts left behind? What was it like to ride the rails on the famed Overland Mail Route, don a gentleman’s clothes? The dress of the times, illuminated with expert contributions from award-winning costume historian and AAS member Lynne Zacek Bassett, provides vital clues that help render a rich depiction of the period, during which the Crafts made their unforgettable journey out of the South and ultimately, out of the Unites States, in search of freedom.



Ilyon Woolyon Woo is the author of Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom and The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times. She has written for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal, and received support for her research from the Whiting Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, among other organizations. She holds a BA in the Humanities from Yale College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. She also held a Peterson Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 2004 where she conducted research for The Great Divorce. Photo: (c) Michael Wilson

Worcester Black History Project

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