Free Boy

blackpast.org/free-boy-primary-sources

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“The authors’ admirable primary-source detective work results in a context-rich story,” Publishers Weekly. 

March 7, 2016

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“Written with deft, lucid prose, this book is a reminder of why lightly fictionalized biography is a marvelous genre. . . . Free Boy provides richly detailed settings and imagined conversations (based on documented events) that bring the story to life,”  readergirlz

March 7, 2016

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“ An intriguing piece of scholarship,” Kirkus

March 7, 2016

Free Boy, A True Story of Slave and Master,
tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in 1860 on the West Coast’s underground railroad. Charles Mitchell was the property of James Tilton, Surveyor General of Washington Territory, and this book is a twined biography of the two.

Co-authored by Lorraine McConaghy, long-time historian at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, the book was published by the University of Washington Press.  See our blog on the book.

Charles Mitchell’s story continues to resonate with those who read it.  Rob Smith, podcaster at Welcome to Olympia, is the latest person to dig a little deeper and add a richer context to Mitchell’s life in 1850s Olympia, Washington Territory, and in the black community of Victoria, British Columbia.  Smith tells Mitchell’s story anew in “A Righteous Decision.”

The Newport High School orchestra, Bellevue, Washington, has performed orchestral pieces by composer Tim Huling based on Free Boy.  

Free Boy cast
The cast of “Free Boy,” the musical

The Fifth Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theater Company performed a musical based on Free Boy during the spring of 2017.

Visit www.blackpast.org for primary source materials for Free Boy.  Blackpast is a source for African-American history created by Dr. Quintard Taylor at the University of Washington.  Read “Slave Master or Benefactor? James Tilton in Antebellum Washington Territory,” in Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History, Summer 2014.

2 thoughts on “Free Boy

  • May 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm
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    Your show was presented at my school today. I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoyed the wonderful story and performance. Even my first graders were enthralled and followed the story. The performance was moving and magnificent.

    Reply
    • May 18, 2017 at 4:37 am
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      Thank you. I think the actors and scriptwriter and musicians have interpreted this story wonderfully.

      Reply

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