Events: Lecture

Ellen and William Craft: A Love Story

  • April 30, 2024
  • The Ware Center, 42 N. Prince Str., Lancaster, PA
  • 5pm Doors Open | 5:30pm Talk
  • FREE | Tickets Required
A graphic with two images. The image on the left is the front cover of the book "Master Slave Husband Wife" by Illyon Woo. The image on the right is of Illyon Woo, a woman with light skin and long dark hair. She rests her arm on the back of a chair and looks off to the left of the photo.

TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE

On Tuesday, April 30, LancasterHistory is thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author Dr. Ilyon Woo for a talk and book signing for her latest book, Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom, at the Ware Center for the Performing Arts. Described as three epic journeys compressed into one monumental bid for freedom, Master Slave Husband Wife is a historical American love story—one that would challenge the nation’s core precepts of life, liberty, and justice for all—that challenges us even now.

A graphic with two images. The image on the left is the front cover of the book "Master Slave Husband Wife" by Illyon Woo. The image on the right is of Illyon Woo, a woman with light skin and long dark hair. She rests her arm on the back of a chair and looks off to the left of the photo.
The front cover of “Master Slave Husband Wife” (left) and author Ilyon Woo (right). Photo by Michael Wilson.

Named as a best book of 2023 by The New Yorker, Time, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, and Oprah Daily, 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. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.

Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities and generated headlines around the country. Americans could not get enough of this charismatic young couple who traveled another 1,000 miles criss-crossing New England and drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside some of the greatest abolitionist luminaries of the day—among them Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown.

But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States–with their lives and thousands more on the line and the stakes never higher.

Dr. Ilyon Woo is the New York Times bestselling 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. Her writing has appeared in The Boston GlobeThe Wall Street Journal, Time, and The New York Times. She has received support for her research from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Antiquarian Society, among other institutions. She holds a BA in the Humanities from Yale College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University.

EVENT DETAILS & HOW TO REGISTER

This event will take place in person at the Ware Center, 42 N. Prince Street in Lancaster, on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Doors open at 5pm, followed by the lecture at 5:30pm in Steinman Hall. Post-lecture (~6:30pm), Ilyon Woo will be available for a book signing of her book, Master Slave Husband Wife. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

This event is free and open to the public but requires advance registration and tickets to attend. To attend this program, please register online or by calling (717) 392-4633. Individuals may only purchase a maximum of four (4) tickets per transaction. If you do not receive a confirmation email for registering, please check your junk/spam folders before contacting support@lancasterhistory.org. Advance registration is strongly encouraged. We are not accepting a waitlist.

Please note that this is an in-person event only. LancasterHistory will not be recording or livestreaming this lecture.

This event is made possible through a partnership with Millersville University’s History Department and by generous supporters, Anne G. Gardner and the Musser-Lyons Endowment for Equity and Education at LancasterHistory.

Please Note: In the Winter/Spring 2024 Programs & Exhibitions guidebook, this event is titled “Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom.” After the printing of the guidebook, this event title was altered but it is the same event.


Membership Makes History Happen! Your membership enables us to bring dynamic speakers to LancasterHistory and gives you other exciting benefits! Learn more about becoming a member of LancasterHistory or renewing your membership today.

Featured Event Book Signing In-Person Event Lecture

James Buchanan, John Brown, & the 1859 Attack on Harper’s Ferry

On Thursday, May 16, join LancasterHistory as we welcome author and historian Dr. John Quist for a discussion of John Brown’s 1859 attack on the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry and why then President Buchanan chose to hand Brown over to Virginia authorities for prosecution.

Headshot photograph of an older man with light skin. He has gray-white hair and a closely-kept beard.
Presenter Dr. John Quist

President James Buchanan’s domestic policy of peace and moderation derailed in October 1859 when radical abolitionist John Brown led 21 men on a raid of the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Dr. John Quist of Shippensburg University joins us to discuss Buchanan, Brown, and the challenging questions Brown’s actions raised about slavery, violence, and obedience to the law.

John Quist, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Shippensburg University. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan. He is also the author or editor of several books, including Restless Visionaries: The Social Roots of Antebellum Reform in Alabama and Michigan (LSU Press, 1998), (with Michael J. Birkner) James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War (University Press of Florida, 2013), and (with Michael J. Birkner and Randall M. Miller) The Worlds of James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens.

EVENT DETAILS & HOW TO REGISTER

This event is expected to take place in person at LancasterHistory on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Doors open and a reception begins at 5pm. The lecture will begin at 5:30pm. The lecture will also be streamed to Zoom at 5:30pm for those who wish to join us virtually.

This program is free and open to the public. In-person attendance requires advance registration in order to guarantee a seat. Due to capacity restrictions, tickets may not be available at the door. Virtual attendance requires advance registration in order to receive the Zoom link. Register online by clicking the appropriate link below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Registration will close online on Thursday, May 16 at 5:30pm. The online version of this program will also be recorded and uploaded to LancasterHistory’s YouTube channel after the event.

REGISTER TO ATTEND IN PERSON

REGISTER TO ATTEND ONLINE

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Membership Makes History Happen! Your membership enables us to bring dynamic speakers to LancasterHistory and gives you other exciting benefits! Learn more about becoming a member of LancasterHistory or renewing your membership today.

In-Person Event Lecture Online/Virtual Event Reception

May 16, 2024 In Person at LancasterHistory & Online via Zoom 5pm Reception | 5:30pm Lecture FREE | Registration Required