Jennifer Goran, a Champaign actress, did her first presentation this past week as Ellen Craft, the slave who escaped in 1848 by posing as a white man. Jennifer did a marvelous job bringing Ellen and her story to life for seventh and eighth grade students in Champaign, Illinois.
If you’re wondering how Ellen Craft managed to pull off this escape, check out the photo of Jennifer Goran in disguise.Â To begin with, Ellen Craft cut her hair short and wore a top hat and a man’s coat–a great coat, it was called. She also wore green-tinted glasses to hide her feminine eyes, and she covered her beardless chin with a toothache bandage.
Ellen and her husband William (who pretended to be her slave) were afraid that Ellen would be required to sign her name at ports and train stations–as masters often had to do. To solve this problem, Ellen put her right hand in a sling and pretended to be suffering from arthritis.
The accompanying illustration shows the real-life Ellen in her disguise, although the image is missing two crucial components–the tinted glasses and the toothache bandage.
By Doug Peterson