How Were Underground Railroad Quilts Used? (Perfect answer)

When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey, according to McDaniel. The seamstress would then hang a quilt with a wagon wheel pattern. This pattern told slaves to pack their belongings because they were about to go on a long journey.

What were secret signals used in the Underground Railroad?

  • Here in the Ohio River valley, the Underground Railroad used a number of different kinds of signals and tokens, some as simple as beating on a copper pot. Each section of the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Louisville developed its own secret system of communication between the slaves and abolitionists in Kentucky and the U.G.R.R. workers in Indiana.

What purpose did quilts serve?

Quilts were made in those early days in America to serve a purpose, to provide warmth at night and to cover doors and windows to help reduce cold. Quilts were functional, with little time for women to create decorative quilts.

What is the purpose of barn quilts?

Barn quilts began as a way to honor a loved one with a gorgeous piece of folk art. While barn quilts have been around for many years, there’s been a spike in popularity in the last two decades.

What does the log cabin quilt mean Underground Railroad?

A Log Cabin quilt hanging in a window with a black center for the chimney hole was said to indicate a safe house. Underground Railroad quilts, a variation of Jacob’s Ladder, were said to give cues as to the safe path to freedom.

How were quilts used a as way to communicate with runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad?

Stories and songs around the fire at night were coded messages to teach them the symbols to follow on the road. Abolitionists and freed slaves would make quilts using one coded pattern and hang them outside their homes as signs to lead fleeing slaves on the path to freedom.

What are some historical uses of quilts?

Throughout history, women and sometimes men have used the art of quilting for many diverse purposes: to keep warm, to decorate their homes, to express their political views, to remember a loved one.

What are the 3 types of quilts?

Our four basic types of quilts are: Pieced, Appliquéd, Paper Pieced, and English Paper Pieced.

What are barn quilts made out of?

A Barn Quilt is a large piece of wood painted to look like a quilt block and hung on the exterior of a barn, house, garage or other building. The majority of Barn Quilts are made of solid colors and comprised of simple geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles.

Why are the barns in Kentucky black?

Black barns raise the heat inside, aiding the curing of tobacco Many got their color from creosote, which repelled termites. Soon many Kentucky barns were painted black just as a fashion statement.

Why are barns red?

Hundreds of years ago, many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant. Rust was plentiful on farms and because it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns, and it was very effective as a sealant. It turned the mixture red in color.

What are Civil War quilts?

There were two main goals of Civil War quilts: 1) to provide Union and Confederate soldiers with warmth and bedding and, 2) to raise money at fairs for the war effort. Most of the quilts from this time were used to the point of disintegration and they were made to be used, not saved.

What is quilt language?

Graphic Wit—the visual language of quilts First and foremost, quilt language is based upon patterns and their manipulation. Quilts speak through their arrangement of visual elements, regardless of whether they are pieced or appliquéd, made with a commonly used pattern or one that is unique to an individual quilt maker.

Who made Underground Railroad quilts?

But historians note that the sole source for that story was one woman— Ozella McDaniel Williams, a retired educator and quilt maker in Charleston, S.C., who recounted for Tobin a family tradition that had been passed down to her through the generations.

How old is quilting?

The history of quilting, the stitching together of layers of padding and fabric, may date back as far as 3400 BCE. For much of its history, quilting was primarily a practical technique to provide physical protection and insulation.

Underground Railroad Quilt Codes: What We Know, What We Believe, and What Inspires Us

An embroidered quilt hanging from a clothesline or window sill, according to folklore, marked the location of a safe home along the Underground Railroad. These quilts were infused with a form of code, so that an enslaved person on the run could determine the immediate hazards in the region by reading the shapes and motifs woven into the pattern, as well as where to go next by reading the code. Dress in disguise in order to appear to be of better social position. Bear Paw = Follow an animal route into the mountains in search of water and food, which you will discover.

I can see the potential benefits of such a system.

I really want to think that took place.

Sharon Tindall is a quilter and instructor who lives in Virginia.

  1. Johnson House, which was built in 1768 in the center of Germantown, has woodwork, flooring, and glass that are all original to the building.
  2. “I took a tour around the area to see where people slept and ate.
  3. The presence of the slaves, as well as the Johnson family who protected them, was represented by the hues in the quilt’s sky.
  4. In Sharon Tindall’s “The Johnson House,” a cotton batik, Dupioni silk, tulle netting, and Swarovski crystals are used to create a 40 by 28-inch piece of art.
  5. Tindall is a believer in and supporter of codes, despite the fact that not all of her quilts are coded.
  6. Our dialogue dragged on for weeks as I pressed for more specific details about how they were being used.
  7. Quilts were frequently produced to mark key family events like as marriage, a child’s birth, or the relocation of the family to a new location.

Toni Tindall’s narrative compositions are made up of a variety of fabrics, including cottons, raw Dupioni silk, Swarovski crystals, natural fibers, Mali mud cloth,and even glitter, to portray the spiritual and intangible elements of the story.

When she points to the blazing horizon line on herquilt, The Johnson House, she adds that the orange represents life or light.

In the years leading up to 1999, the codes were virtually unknown, even among members of the African American quilting community.

Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, written by Jaqueline Tobin and Raymond G.

In collaboration with National Geographic and the Kennedy Center, curriculum for primary schools were designed that included references to the codes.

When we read an inspirational article online that is posted in Times New Roman, we prefer to take it as fact without questioning it.

“Almost every February, pieces of African-American history emerge in newspapers across the country,” MacDowell adds, referring to Black History Month.

Perhaps the rules for experiencing belief vs experiencing reality are just different.

There are no dates, instances, or first-person testimonies.

Evidence is required before something may be considered a fact.

According to studies of quilts manufactured during these years, the proof for some of these designs simply does not exist, so shattering the grip of this enthralling story’s engaging narrative.

Sharon Tindall provided the photograph.

It is now safe to remove your chains and shackles because you have a double wedding ring.

I inquired of Tindall about the significance of the Flying Geese quilt pattern and how it aided runaways on the Underground Railroad.

“Follow the geese as they fly north.” Look for or listen for geese moving north in the spring if the skies aren’t clear.

It read more like a poem or a nursery rhyme to me.

They were meant to physically follow the geese, right?

Although you may or may not agree with Tindall’s interpretation, you could agree that her view gives artistic grounds for believing as opposed to actuality.

“If people’s lives are on the line, it only seems sense that there would be no race of the quilts,” explains quilt researcher Mary Twining-Baird, who resides in Atlanta.

” If anyone learned the truth, they may literally lose their lives.” She specializes in kente clothquilts manufactured on the Sea Island chain, which stretches from South Carolina to Georgia to Florida, but she takes a strong position against quilt codes.

“Of course it was an amap!” says the author.

After all this time, they have either vanished or been shattered to bits.

The artist has provided permission for the use of his photograph.

She is attempting to explain or offer supporting evidence for her believe in quiltcodes, which is analogous to someone attempting to explain or provide supporting evidence for their belief in God.

The following is what she sent to me: “I consider myself a believer in Jesus Christ as well as a lady of Faith, storyteller, and acreator of quilts.” “I’ve taken the things that God has given me and I’m giving them back to Him via the quilt codes,” says the author of the book.

If we sincerely believe something, as Tindall thinks that enslaved people going north were directed by the Flying Geese design in quilts, it is possible that we may have difficulty distinguishing between belief and truth.

So it is with the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea, who believe that the souls of their ancestors take up residence in various animals, such as pigs and birds, after they die.

Stories, recipes, personal experiences, and everything else that was whispered to us when we were children frequently trump scientific reality.

A classic block design, the North Star, is combined with a Jacob’s Ladder block pattern to create this quilt by Sharon Tindall.

Sharon Tindall provided the photograph.

Is it possible that these quilts are causing harm to anyone?

“I’ve discovered that some individuals have a difficult time believing or thinking about things they cannot see or touch,” Tindall explains.

Detroit’s African American population expanded by more than 600 percent between 1910 and 1920, according to the United States Census Bureau.

They brought quilts and tales of the enslaved South with them wherever they traveled.

The interviews conducted by MacDowell’s team numbered around fifty.

“Follow the Drinking Gourd (Green),” by Sharon Tindall, 2019, green batik on printed cotton, 26.5 × 26.5″ Sharon Tindall provided the photograph.

Her grandmother also taught her this.

The problem with theHiddenin Plain Viewbook is that it leads the reader to believe that every African American quilter had their needle pointed north.

Was her being white a contributing factor to her not hearing the story?

She is very aware of how widespread the myth of patchwork codes has gone.

While conducting research on quilts in South Africa, she met a group of contemporary quilters who, “lo and behold!” had heard about the book and had begun coding quilts of their own.

“It’s a fact of life.” Perhaps the code, whether genuine or not, serves as a platform for African Americans to explore the pain they inherited—as well as the possibility of redemption.

They were braiding in the same code she was using, which she was surprised to find out.

Some African American women are now making coded quilts for their daughters and granddaughters, and this will continue to be the case in the future.

The lineage of quilt code-using artisans is now well-established.

In her spare time, MarieClaire Bryant works as a poet, storyteller, and archivist at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in New York City.

She formerly worked as the director of publication for the Cfile Foundation, where she wrote, edited, and published significantly on the subject of modern and historic ceramic arts, among other things.

Quilts of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia

An embroidered quilt hanging from a clothesline or window sill, according to legend, was a common indication of a safe house along the Underground Railroad. Each of these quilts was encoded with a code, so that an enslaved person on the run could decipher the shapes and motifs stitched into the design and determine the immediate dangers in the area, as well as where to go next. The use of a bow tie can make you appear to be of higher social standing. Bear Paw = Travel through the mountains on an animal trail in search of water and food.

  • Log Cabin = I can see the potential of such a system in the near future.
  • I’d like to believe it actually took place.
  • Sharon Tindall is a quilter and educator who lives in Virginia.
  • In her words, “When I’m making a quilt, I’m completely focused on its goal.” The fact that I am able to produce something comforting makes me thankful.
  • Johnson House, which was built in 1768 in the center of Germantown, is notable for its original woodwork, flooring, and glass.
  • There is an eerie sense of their presence around you.
  • Hope, freedom, and affection for the slaves are among the messages I wish to communicate.
See also:  What Are Stations In The Underground Railroad? (Suits you)

Sharon Tindall’s “The Johnson House,” a 40 x 28-inch cotton batik on Dupioni silk netting with Swarovski crystals, is a work in progress.

Tindall is a believer in and protector of codes, even though not all of her quilts are coded.

Our dialogue dragged on for weeks as I pressed for more specific details about how they were being employed.

The creation of quilts was frequently done to memorialize key family events such as a wedding, childbirth, or the relocation of the family.

When it comes to conveying the spiritual, intangible components of her story compositions, Tindall employs a variety of materials such as cottons, raw Dupioni silks, Swarovski crystals, natural fibers, Mali mud cloth, and even glitter.

When she points to the brilliant horizon line on her quilt The Johnson House, she says, “the orange represents life or light.” In the midst of their effort to achieve independence, “they might feel or taste light.” In the years until 1999, the codes were virtually unknown, even among members of the African American quilting community.

Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, written by Jaqueline Tobin and Raymond G.

Primary and secondary school curriculum that incorporate the codes were produced by National Geographic and The Kennedy Center.

It’s natural for us to believe a positive narrative on the internet that has been typeset in Times New Roman.

When it comes to African-American History Month, MacDowell says, “articles emerge in newspapers throughout the country almost every February.” “If you’re asking what’s causing our annoyance, I believe it’s more annoying that the codes continue to be presented as truth.” That is to say, among other things, the validity of quilt codes is determined by the amount of stress placed on them.

It is not necessary to provide proof when a person believes in something.

Except for believing, they have nothing to do.

It is difficult to determine what constitutes “fact.” Some historians have raised the possibility that many of the quilt designs claimed as guidelines for enslaved peoples were not yet in existence during the height of the Underground Railroad, between 1850 and 1860, when the Underground Railroad was at its most active.

  • In this quilt, Sharon Tindall’s rendition of the Flying Geese quilt design is depicted in dupioni silk and cotton, and is 19 by 19″ in size.
  • To avoid being stalked by hounds, take the Drunkard’s Path = Zig-zag your way down the path.
  • Flying Geese is a historical design created from triangles and rectangles that Sharon Tindall utilizes in her work.
  • When I asked her what color the birds were, she answered with “blue,” “red,” and “black.” The geese are heading north, so follow them.
  • It came across as a poem or a nursery song to my ears.
  • They were meant to physically follow the geese, was that correct?
  • It doesn’t matter whether you trust Tindall’s interpretation or not; you could agree that her opinion gives lyrical explanations for believing as opposed to actuality.

In the opinion of Atlanta-based quilt researcher Mary Twining-Baird, “If people’s lives are at danger, it stands to reason that there would be no race of the quilts.” It goes without saying that the documents are non-existent.

An antique quilt that “looked like it had been made with a crowbar” was discovered by her.

Because the quilt was destroyed in a flood and no photographs were taken, this provides as proof for the overall scarcity of material evidence of quilt codes in modern times.

Alyssa Tindall’s e-mail address: [email protected] The artist has provided permission to use his photograph.

She is attempting to explain or offer supporting evidence for her believe in quiltcodes, which is analogous to someone attempting to explain or provide supporting evidence for their belief in god.

The following is what she sent to me: “I consider myself a believer in Jesus Christ as well as a lady of Faith, storyteller, and an acreator of quilts.” In the quilt coding, I’m saying, “I’ve taken the things that God has given me and I’m giving them back to Him.” Scholar For example, Marilyn Motz gives a definition for belief that appears to be appropriate: “a process of knowing that is not amenable to verification or measurement within the context of a modern western scientific paradigm.” As she points out, “the phrase belieffact throws into doubt the legitimacy of the concept itself.” After all, “we frequently refer to our own views as knowledge,” according to the author.

  • If we sincerely believe something, like Tindall thinks that enslaved people going north were directed by the Flying Geese design in quilts, we may have difficulty distinguishing between what is believed and what is proven.
  • It is possible that objective facts will have little impact on folkloric beliefs in many circumstances.
  • Does the hard proof the Kalulicans present for their deeply ingrained belief systems warrant our concern?
  • You should care about them because they matter because we believe in them.
  • A classic block design, the North Star, is combined with a Jacob’s Ladder in this quilt by Sharon Tindall.
  • Irrespective of the contested history, Tindall and other quilters have been creating coded quilts for the past twenty years: shimmering, spiritually charged, stop you in your tracks, hangingtextiles based on profoundly believed and controversial historical events.
  • In MacDowell’s opinion, “the danger is that it is not a true story.” There is a danger in challenging people’s views and the sources of their knowledge, says the author.

People who had been enslaved were finally free to travel without fear of being captured.

In what is known as the Great Northern Migration, or the Black Migration, a group of African-Americans traveled from the rural South to the Midwest, expressing their displeasure with segregation laws and looking for industrial employment.

Hidden in Plain View was being written by Tobin and Dobard at this time period.

Around fifty interviews were conducted by MacDowell’s team.

“Follow the Drinking Gourd (Green),” by Sharon Tindall, 2019, green batik on printed cotton, 26.5 x 26.5 inches.

According to one lady, who was originally from SouthCarolina but now lives in Detroit, she began to quilt as a youngster in her home state of SouthCarolina.” Because opportunities are found in the northern hemisphere, according to her mother (as did her grandmother educate her mother), she always quilts with a needle facing north while she works because that is where the best opportunities are found.

  1. Others who spoke with us indicated that her family had hidden vital documents in the quilt’s binding.
  2. The question of MacDowell’s whiteness was raised by her quilt-scholar colleagues.
  3. No one in Michigan knew about this story, despite the fact that we had a full battery of individuals completing those interviews in Michigan, both black and white.” MacDowell has carried out the necessary study and analysis.
  4. The fact that she has no control over the situation is particularly frustrating for her.
  5. It’s true, she admits, that there will always be individuals who believe.
  6. A voyage to Liberia, a West African country initially formed as a colony by the American Colonization Society in order to repatriate emancipated and free-born black people from the United States, provided Tindall with the opportunity to express her ideas to her audience.
  7. There was an unspoken sense of affinity between her and the man.
  8. Whether or whether the codes are “genuine,” Tobin and Dobard are responsible for a twenty-year history of craftsmanship that has sprung up as a result of their faith in what they wrote, i.e., their belief in the code.
  9. In their eyes, the codes constitute poetry and healing as well as a method of expressing their historical heritage.

Before that, she worked as the director of publishing at the Cfile Foundation, where she wrote about, edited, and published significantly on the subject of current and historic ceramic art.

Books that emphasize quilt use

In her book, Stitched from the Soul (1990), Gladys-Marie Fry asserted that quilts were used to communicate safe houses and other information about the Underground Railroad, which was a network of “conductors,” meeting places, and safe houses that ran through the United States and into Canada, facilitating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery and into freedom. Historiologists, on the other hand, are divided on whether quilts and songs were used to spread information about the Underground Railroad.

Ozella McDaniel Williams provided the inspiration for the book, telling Tobin that her family had handed down a narrative for centuries about how quilt designs such as wagon wheels, log homes, and wrenches were used to help slaves travel the Underground Railroad.

It began with a monkey wrench, which signified the need to gather all of the essential goods and equipment, and concluded with a star, which signified the need to travel north.

Tobin noted in a 2007 Time magazine article: “It’s distressing to be attacked while also being denied the opportunity to commemorate this remarkable oral history of one family’s experience.” I have no clue whether or not it is totally valid, but it seems sense given the quantity of research we conducted.” “I believe there has been a tremendous lot of misunderstanding concerning the code,” Dobard stated.

When Jackie and I wrote the book, we set out to suggest that it was a collection of directions.

“In Africa, there is a long-standing history of secret organizations controlling the coding of information.

The foreword of Hidden in Plain View was written by Wahlman.


Giles Wright, a specialist on the Underground Railroad, claims that the book is based on legend that has not been corroborated by any reliable sources. He also stated that there are no quilting codes mentioned in any memoirs, diaries, or Works Progress Administration interviews done in the 1930s with ex-slaves that have been discovered. Quilt historians Kris Driessen, Barbara Brackman, and Kimberly Wulfert do not subscribe to the premise that quilts were used to transmit messages about the Underground Railroad, as claimed by certain historians.

Well-known historians did not feel that the idea was correct and could not see any relationship between Douglass and this viewpoint.

Blight “At some time, the true stories of fugitive slave escape, as well as the far bigger story of those slaves who were never able to flee, must take precedence over fiction as a primary focus of educational endeavors.

Despite this, there are museums, schools, and other organizations who think the narrative is factual.

Using the quilts as an example, he compares the code to the phrase in ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” in which slaves intended fleeing but their owners believed they were going to die.

See also

  • Cecelia Pedescleaux is a quilt scholar and quilter who specializes on the Underground Railroad.
See also:  How Was The Underground Railroad Operated? (Suits you)


  1. Celeste-Marie Bernier and Hannah Durkin are two of the most talented people in the world (2016). Across the African Diaspora, artists have created artworks that depict slavery. pp. 76–77, published by Oxford University Press. Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard (ISBN 978-1-78138-267-7) are the authors (1999). Quilts and the Underground Railroad have a secret history that has been kept hidden in plain sight. Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, N.Y., ISBN 0-385-49137-9
  2. Abc Stacie Stukin is a woman who lives in the United States (2007-04-03). “Unraveling the Myth of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” is a book on quilts and the Underground Railroad. TIME. The original version of this article was published on April 29, 2007. Obtainable on January 23, 2013
  3. Abcdef Noam Cohen is a writer and musician from New York City (January 23, 2007). Douglass Tribute is a work in which Slave Folklore and Fact collide. The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. ISSN0362-4331. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman (Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman, eds) (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
  4. Reynolds, Glenn (2007). “quilts.” Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
  5. Reynolds, Glenn (2007). “quilts.” According to Junius P. Rodriguez (ed.). The Slave Resistance and Rebellion Encyclopedia is a resource for those interested in the history of slave resistance and rebellion. Pages 407–409 in Greenwood Publishing Group’s book. 978-0-313-33273-9
  6. Abcd
  7. ISBN 978-0-313-33273-9 Andrew Bartholomew is a writer and poet (February 1, 2007). “Prof. Douglass debunks the Douglass myth.” The Yale Daily News is a daily newspaper published by Yale University. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman (Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman, 2017)
  8. Retrieved on March 19, 2017. (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks. Publisher: Arcadia Publishing Incorporated, p. 127, ISBN: 978-1-62585-701-9
  9. ISBN: 978-1-62585-701-9 Barbara Brackman is a writer and editor who lives in New York City (November 5, 2010). FactsFabrications-Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: 8 Projects – 20 Blocks – First-Person AccountsFactsFabrications-Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: 8 Projects – 20 Blocks – First-Person Accounts C T Publishing Inc., p. 7, ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
  10. AbFergus M. Bordewich, p. 7, ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
  11. (February 2, 2007). “History’s Tangled Threads” (History’s Tangled Threads). The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. ISSN0362-4331. 30 April 2012
  12. Retrieved 30 April 2012
  13. Diane Cole is a woman who works in the fashion industry (2012). “Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps? – US News and World Report” (Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps?) 30th of April, 2012
  14. Retrieved


  • Brackman, Barbara (1997)Quilts from the Civil War: Nine Projects, Historic Notes, and Diary Entries, ISBN1-57120-033-9
  • Burns, Eleanor
  • Sue Bouchard (1997)Quilts from the Civil War: Nine Projects, Historic Notes, and Diary Entries, ISBN1-57120-033-9 (2003). The Underground Railroad Sampler is a collection of short stories about the Underground Railroad. Isbn 978-1-891776-13-7
  • Cord, Xenia (Quilt in a Day) (March 2006). “The Underground Railroad” is a term that refers to a network of tunnels and passageways that connect cities to the rest of the world. Patchwork is really popular right now.14 (3). Fellner, Leigh (2010) “Betsy Ross redux: The quilt code.”
  • Frazier, Harriet C. (2012) “Betsy Ross redux: The quilt code” (1 July 2004). Runaway and freed Missouri slaves, as well as those who assisted them, were documented between 1763 and 1865. McFarland & Company, Inc., p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7864-1829-9. Rice, Kym S., et al., eds., retrieved on April 30, 2012. (2011). 978-0-313-34944-7 (World of a Slave: A-I). ABC-CLIO, p. 390. ISBN 978-0-313-34944-7 (World of a Slave: A-I). Turner, Patricia A., et al., eds., retrieved 30 April 2012. (2009). The book Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters by Shelley Zegart is available on Amazon (2008) Shelley Zegart debunks the myth of the African American Quilt Scholarship and the technique behind it. Pages 48–56 in Selvedge, (ISSN 1742-254X) Issue 21 (Jan/Feb 2008), published by the University of California Press.

Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps?

Fact, fiction, legend, or a mix of all three: that is the question. Possibly, fugitive slaves looked to handcrafted quilts deliberately placed by members of the Underground Railroad for hints about their whereabouts. This continuing issue made headlines earlier this year when it was announced that a memorial to Frederick Douglass in New York City’s Central Park will feature two inscriptions relating to the code. Historians were outraged, and they were outspoken. According to Giles Wright, head of the Afro-American History Program at the New Jersey Historical Commission, there is no evidence for such a code to be in existence.

  • The tale of the quilt key, on the other hand, remains firmly above ground.
  • Tobin and Raymond G.
  • The account, according to historians, came from a single source: Ozella McDaniel Williams, a retired educator and quilt maker from Charleston, South Carolina.
  • She said that instructions for assisting fleeing slaves on their path to freedom were hidden inside 12 quilt patterns.
  • In spite of the fact that Williams passed away just a few months before the book was released, Williams’s 73-year-old niece Serena Wilson of Columbus, Ohio, claims that she too learnt about the secret maps from her mother.
  • Misinterpret.
  • Bordewich, author of Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the Battle for the Soul of America, there is no other reference for the code other than that of the Bordewich family.
  • “There is no reference anywhere by anyone, black or white, of any quilt being used at any time.” In addition, no coded quilts from the time period have survived.
  • However, according to Brackman, some of the patterns that are alleged to be part of the Underground Railroad code did not exist until after the Civil War, while others did not exist until after the Civil War.
  • Many of the elements that have been attributed to the story—such as the use of quilts to mark safe homes along the way—”simply aren’t in the book,” she claims.

As Tobin points out, “we’re not talking about hundreds or thousands of people who are utilizing this code.” “The plot has developed in unexpected ways that we did not anticipate.”

Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on the Underground Railroad?

The symbols that are employed in quilting have a convoluted or unknown background, which makes them very interesting. They are now recognized as the designs that distinguish antique quilts as unusual and one-of-a-kind. However, there are many who have long assumed that the symbols employed in quilts of the South during slavery were really utilized as secret signals for slaves fleeing on the Underground Railroad, and they are correct in their assumption. The majority of specialists now wonder whether this truly occurred.

courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Underground Railroad

An underground railroad network of abolitionists – both black and white – who assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape through a network of safe homes and shelters was known as the Underground Railroad (UR). The Underground Railroad was backed by two major religious groups, the Quakers and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, from its inception in the late 1700s and continuing until the passage of the first of the Fugitive Slave Acts in 1793, when it was established. The Underground Railroad, as depicted in an 1893 picture, may have looked somewhat like this.

What if the most unobtrusive method to accomplish this goal was to hang a quilt out on the line?

The Quilt Code

When it comes to slavery, the Underground Railroad was an informal network of anti-slavery activists (both black and white) who assisted slaves in their attempts to escape through a system of safe homes and shelters. The Underground Railroad was backed by two major religious groups, the Quakers and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, from its inception in the late 1700s and continuing until the passage of the first of the Fugitive Slave Acts in 1793. The Underground Railroad, as seen in this 1893 picture, was a means of emancipation from slavery.

Because the Underground Railroad operated until the conclusion of the Civil War, there were decades in opportunity to establish subtle codes and symbols that may have been beneficial.

In no way, shape, or form

Underground Railroad Quilt

I recently discovered about the Underground Railroad Quilt, which is a fable or myth about how quilts were used to communicate with escaping slaves during the Underground Railroad era. Now, I’m not a quilter because I’m just too impatient. But I adore riddles and patterns, and I’m fascinated by how quilters transform bits of fabric into pieces of art using their imaginations, their hands, and their patience. In addition, quilts with hidden codes embroidered into them are quite interesting. Here’s a quick rundown of the past: Before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was a network of liberated slaves and abolitionists who worked together to provide slaves with hidden passageways, safe houses, and food as they made their way north to free states and Canadian territory.

  1. The act of teaching slaves how to read or write was also prohibited by law, making communication difficult and perhaps dangerous.
  2. Stories and songs told around a campfire at night were coded messages intended to educate them the symbols they would encounter on the path ahead of them.
  3. (Click on the image to be taken to the source) Monkey Wrench – Collect the items you’ll need to travel, create a shelter, and protect yourself in the wilderness.
  4. Crossroads– This symbol represented Cleveland, Ohio, a place where various paths lead to liberty.
  5. Change out of your slave garments and into your freedmen’s attire.
  6. North Star – Pay attention to the North Star.
  7. Is it true or false?

The achievements of the Underground Railroad are nothing short of astounding.

Their efforts were impeded by rules that made it unlawful to aid fugitive slaves in their pursuit of freedom.

They put their livelihoods and, in some cases, their lives at stake.

Slave yet free at the same time.

There are two classes of people: the rich and the poor.

They provided slaves with the TOOLS they need in order to live.

They offered SAFE HOUSES as well as SUPPORT during the journey.

Today, we are confronted with a different, but no less destructive, form of slavery.

Slavery is against the law.

It is remarkable to reflect on the progress made in the movement to eradicate human trafficking, protect the vulnerable, and provide support to victims and survivors since the historic passage of Proposition 35/CASE Act, which was proposed by California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation in 2012.

And, most recently, the state budget included a recurring $10 million allocation for human trafficking services and support programs.

Dedicated public servants and committed service providers are working together in counties, cities, and communities across our state to provide public awareness campaigns, housing, transitional living support, health services, counseling, education, and legal assistance, as well as to expand services to underserved populations.

  1. Let’s take a look back at the lessons learned in the past.
  2. Work in a collaborative environment.
  3. Follow in the footsteps of the survivors.
  4. Provide life skills and education to those who need it.
  5. Be fearless and forward-thinking.

and how to get in touch with them. This is a resource that is alive and breathing. We know that some of you may have been overlooked; thus, please submit your organizationshere. I’m honored to serve beside you. Ginger Shaw is a woman who works in the fashion industry.

Underground Railroad Quilts Contained Codes That Led To Freedom

Each patch has a set of instructions sewn on it. Others were there to restock supplies, some were there to track bear prints, and some were there to take diversions. A presentation of the Underground Quilts by the Riley Center Quilters was held on Tuesday evening at the Birmingham Public Library Central Branch. Others quilts were enormous, some were little; some were completed, some were not; but all included instructions on how to emancipate oneself from the bonds of servitude. Daphne Simmons, a member of the Riley Center Quilters, explained that quilts were utilized as codes since they were the only method of communication available.

  1. “There was a code, an unwritten code.
  2. Simmons went into detail about the significance of each patch on her quilt.
  3. It was written on the quilt, “This block contains an alternating route of dark and light that denotes direction,” and that specific quilt instructed slaves in which direction they should move: north, south, east, or west.
  4. “It’s a tool in the same way that a genuine monkey wrench is,” Simmons explained.
  5. This patch represented the period of time during which they would need to gather the tools they would use on their trip north to freedom.
  6. The capacity to determine the intents of strangers, according to Simmons, comes from “knowledge and experience.” She spoke into detail about the block with the wagon wheel.
  7. As a result of the restricted weight and space available, they had to carry things that were vital for survival.
  8. It was pointed out by Simmons that the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” made reference to a wagon wheel.
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According to her, it is a “secondary coding pattern.” “The song was generally chanted in conjunction with that block because plantation owners believed that slaves were singing about joining Jesus in Heaven.” They were in fact transmitting a secret message.” She explained that they were supposed to follow the carpenter’s wheel to the northwest.

  • In order to avoid being eaten by a bear, “you would follow their paws and their trail.
  • According to her, “following those bear paws, they’ll also be guided to food and water.” “Animals will lead you in the right direction.” Basket A basket indicated that the runaways would resupply their provisions at a secure location.
  • A major crossroads occurred in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, as Simmons explained.
  • I’m traveling to see someone in another city and rely on Google Maps to get there.
  • Running away to a shoofly for clothes is something that may happen.
  • “There would be sailors on hand to assist you in across the river and entering Canada, where the North Star (the next block away) would shine brightly with your independence,” says the author.
  • “There were some northern states that empathized with slaves, and there were some northern states who were opposed to it,” she explained.
  • Lesson in Learning Many people, including Miriam Omura, who was in attendance, found this seminar to be a valuable learning experience.
  • She gained a better understanding of the symbols that were utilized on the Underground Railroad.
  • “It was nice to learn about even more of the ones I was unaware of,” says the author.
  • “It makes me want to create one,” Gross expressed interest in doing so.

“I’m still new at quilting; I’ve only been doing it for about nine months. I’ve only made one so far, and I’m now working on my second. In this experience, I learnt something that I don’t believe I would have learned otherwise,” Gross added.

Underground Railroad Quilts

Anti-slavery activists in the United States and Canada formed the ‘Underground Railroad,’ which provided safe havens for African-American slaves during the Civil War. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, it reached its zenith of activity between 1859 and 1860, when it had the greatest number of passengers. In popular American imagination, quilts were used to designate safe places on the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that there is no documentary evidence to support this. For example, a quilt hung on a fence in front of a cabin would be used to signal to escaping slaves that the cabin was safe to proceed towards.

  • The following section of the narrative is a little more contentious.
  • It has been suggested that particular information about how many miles to travel and in which direction may be obtained from the knots in a quilt and the location of where they are situated.
  • Ozella McDaniel Williams of Charleston, South Carolina, shared her knowledge of 10 quilt designs that had been passed down through her family and had been utilized in this manner.
  • TOBIN, Jacqueline L., and Raymond G.
  • A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, published by Anchor Books/Random House in New York, is hidden in plain sight.
  • GVE

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The following is an excerpt from the book “Hidden in Plain View” by Raymond Dobard:” Some consider this quilt, which has a “Evening Star” design on it, to be a secret code that slaves used to navigate their way to freedom through the Underground Railroad. While researching a family legend that messages encoded in quilts assisted slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad for their book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad (Random House), Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard had no idea that their hypothesis would spark controversy from scholars who declared it false.

For Tobin, a writer and educator, “Hidden in Plain Viewis the tale of one woman’s family,” says the book’s title character, Ozella McDaniel Williams, who she met in a Charleston, South Carolina market in 1994 and who told her about the codes that she had never heard of before.

With no historical evidence to support Williams’ claim, Tobin enlisted her friend Raymond Dobard, a quilter and art history professor affiliated with Howard University, to assist her with the research and writing of the book, which is now in its sixth printing and has sold more than 200,000 copies to date.

Although I am unsure as to whether or not it is fully valid, the quantity of research we conducted leads me to believe it is.

As he points out, “the Underground Railroad is filled with inaccuracies and disinformation, and this is just one more case where someone stumbles across folklore and believes it to be genuine.” Historians like Wright are working hard to correct the record whenever the opportunity presents itself.

  1. In their belief, this is a myth analogous to George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, and they spend pages and pages on websites denying it.
  2. Even more recently, quilt historian Barbara Brackman wrote her own book, Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery (C T Publishing), in which she attempted to provide what she believes to be an accurate appraisal of slavery, quilts, and the Underground Railroad.
  3. Approximately 6,500 students from local schools have visited the exhibit, which demonstrates the thesis of the patchwork code.
  4. In addition, the narrative has appeared in lesson plans and textbooks (TIME For Kidseven published an article aboutHidden in Plain Viewin a middle school art book published by McGraw Hill in 2005).
  5. Although some people, such as Anna Lopez, an education coordinator at the Plymouth Historical Museum, believe that the concept of quilt codes is a fabrication, others, like as Lopez, believe that it is a true story.
  6. Men are the ones who do it.
  7. Then I inquire as to who produced the quilts.
  8. Who knows what happened since no one wrote down their history.” Activist and photographer Roland Freeman, who has been photographing and documenting African American quilters for almost 30 years, offers a different view on why the subject has gained so widespread attention.
  9. We’re sending messages and symbols right under the noses of white people, and they haven’t even realized it.
  10. As a result, we are inclined to accept such stories because they are what we want to hear.” Laurel Horton, a folklorist and quilt historian who has taught and published papers on the quilt code, has stated that she has given up on attempting to dispel the idea about the code.
  11. “This entire situation has made me realize that it is not a question of one group knowing the truth and another not.

In this case, it comes down to two separate sets of beliefs. It’s made me understand that believing doesn’t have much to do with accurate portrayal of the world around us. People have a gut feeling that something is real, and no one can persuade them differently in their heads.”

Underground Railroad Quilts & Quilting for Abolitionist Fairs

A war does not begin with the firing of the first shot. A year’s worth of events build up to it, and another year’s worth of rehabilitation follows. In other words, when we think of the Civil War era, we are thinking about several years of sewing. The narrative of Civil War quilting is a blend of historical fact and urban legend. Despite the fact that the oral tradition does not always provide us with completely precise facts, it frequently represents a broader reality of our pride in our nation and our hopes for its future.

  1. An embroidered Log Cabin quilt hanging in a window, with a black center for the chimney hole, was thought to denote the presence of a safe haven.
  2. Imagining ladies covertly stitching fabric pieces together in order to be used as signals is a fun exercise.
  3. However, these legends have been passed down from generation to generation, inspiring thoughts of quilting as a part of the struggle for independence in our minds.
  4. For example, Barbara Brackman explains in her essay on the Underground Railroad block: “As a quiltmaker, I’ve always admired the design and the subtle meanings included within the name.
  5. Names of Block Patterns from the American Civil War On special block patterns with titles like Lincoln’s Platform, Sherman’s March, Birds in the Air and Evening Star, the boundary between fact and fiction is even more blurred than it is on general block patterns.
  6. It’s possible that the Log Cabin gained popularity following the death of Abraham Lincoln.
  7. Perhaps many of these popular blocks were indeed created and named in commemoration of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, as some have suggested.

One thing we can be positive of is that women in the northern hemisphere constructed quilts, stitching messages on them that warned people about the dangers of slavery.

An antislavery poem was engraved on one of them, and the following is an excerpt from it.

They have held a number of handcraft fairs throughout the years in order to earn funds for their cause and to keep it in the public spotlight.

“The first Anti-Slavery Fair was held in Boston in 1834, and it was so successful that the idea spread to other cities and towns throughout New England, and then to other states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania,” says the author.

These groups disseminated petitions, provided schools for black children, and gathered funds for causes that were important to their members.

As stated in the article, “We have been informed that the colored women of Salem, in particular, ought to be thanked for their interest in the Fair and for the products they sent.” 5 In the years preceding up to the Civil War, these abolitionist movements had a significant impact on public opinion.

Judy Anne Breneman is a woman who lives in the United States.

Quilts and the Underground Railroad, by Barbara Brackman, is number two on the list.

Pat Ferrero, Elaine Hedges, and Julie Silber’s “Hearts and Hands: The Influence of WomenQuilts on American Society” (page 72) is a book about the influence of women quilts on American society.

Laurel Horton’s “Quiltmaking in America: Beyond the Myths” is a book about quiltmaking in America (Editor) Websites: “History of the Underground Railroad Quilt Pattern” and “History of the Underground Railroad Quilt Pattern” “The Myth of the Underground Railroad Quilt” You’ve arrived at a page with various instructive articles about the Underground Railroad as well as about quilts.

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