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Nastassia Parker as Ona Judge
Nastassia Parker portrays Ona Judge in "Freedom on the Horizon" at the Museum in June 2019.

In May of 1796, a young, enslaved woman named Ona Judge escaped the home of George Washington while living in Philadelphia. Hear about her extraordinary story and visit the sites that played a part in her journey towards freedom with Museum educator and Visitor Services Associate, Michael Idriss.

Part 1: Who Was Ona Judge? (0:00-1:52)
Discover who Ona was and what her life as an enslaved body servant would have meant.

Part 2: Life at the President’s Mansion (1:52-5:04)
Ona moves to Philadelphia with the Washingtons and discovers a world that she’s never seen before.

Part 3: Ona’s Escape (5:04-6:56)
Learn how Ona navigated her way out of Philadelphia.

Part 4: Ona’s Life in New Hampshire (6:56-9:19)

Find out about Ona’s life after her escape and discover an object that links directly to her life in Philadelphia.

Family Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you have done if you were in Ona’s shoes?
  2. Ona chose to run away from the house in Philadelphia even though the law said it was illegal for her to leave or anyone to help her. What does it mean to break a rule when you think the rule is wrong?
  3. Is there a difference between Ona choosing to escape and America declaring independence from Great Britain?

Want to learn more about Ona Judge? Watch “Freedom on the Horizon” as Nastassia Parker portrays Judge in a first-person performance, read an excerpt from Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar's 2017 National Book Award finalist Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, and read an excerpt from Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away; Young Readers Edition adapted by Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve for our younger revolutionaries.

The Ona Judge Virtual "Walking" Tour was released as part of the Museum's on-site and online programming honor the life, service, and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over MLK Weekend.

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Image 102220 Nastassia Parker

"Freedom on the Horizon" Performed by Nastassia Parker

In this 20-minute performance, Nastassia Parker portrays Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who ran away from George and Martha Washington’s household in Philadelphia.
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Image 102820 16x9 Transparent Rtr Never Caught Young Readers Dunbar Armstrong

Never Caught

Read an excerpt from Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve's young reader adaptation of the story of runaway slave Ona Judge.
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Image 011421 16x9 Transparent Never Caught Armstrong Dunbar Cover

Never Caught

This excerpt from Erica Armstrong Dunbar examines the growth of anti-slavery sentiment in Philadelphia during the 1780s and 1790s.
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