Project Description

Royall House &
Slave Quarters

The Royall House

The “Meanings of Freedom” exhibit that we designed ends a guided tour of the Royall mansion, and quotes residents of 18th-century Massachusetts to explore the parallel causes of freedom from British rule and the abolition of slavery. The multi-panel exhibit addresses the difficult realities of sudden freedom, drawing on Belinda Sutton’s remarkable and eloquent petition for a pension from the estate of her former slaveholder, and details the gradual end of slavery in Massachusetts, which was largely brought about by enslaved people seeking personal freedom in a climate of independence.

The Slave Quarters

The facts of enslavement on the Royall estate tell a larger story of race-based American slavery. By focusing on living spaces and family relationships, the Enslavement exhibit we designed helps build visitor empathy for the people who were held here, ideally helping dispel myths about the “benevolence” of northern slavery. The Freedom exhibit helps place northern slavery in a national context, connecting it both to the Patriots’ cause and to the abolitionism of the next century.