What Are The Quilts Of The Underground Railroad? (The answer is found)

Quilts of the Underground Railroad describes a controversial belief that quilts were used to communicate information to African slaves about how to escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. It has been disputed by a number of historians.

Quilts of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia

  • Quilts of the Underground Railroad describes a controversial belief that quilts were used to communicate information to African slaves about how to escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. It has been disputed by a number of historians.

What role did quilts play in the Underground Railroad?

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 historians believe the first quilt the seamstress would display had a wrench pattern.

What is the freedom quilt about?

It is believed that quilts were designed and used to communicate information to African slaves about how to escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad.

What is the Underground Railroad quilt code?

A quilting pattern often overlooked in today’s society is the Underground Railroad quilt code. Used during the time of abolition and the Civil War, this visual code sewn into the pattern of quilts readied slaves for their upcoming escape and provided them directions when they were on their way to freedom.

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.

Where did quilting originate?

Quilting can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt. In the British Museum is an ivory carving from the Temple of Osiris at Abydos found in 1903 which features the king of the First Egyptian Dynasty wearing a cloak or mantle that appears to be quilted.

Where is the freedom quilt?

Freedom Quilt | National Museum of African American History and Culture.

How many quilt patterns were in the code?

Researchers today are excited about unraveling the mysteries behind the Underground Railroad Quilt codes. And your students will be excited to use this kit to help design their own coded quilt squares. Twelve quilt patterns were used to direct the slaves to take particular action.

Did slaves make quilts?

Slaves made quilts for the plantation family, sometimes under the supervision of the plantation mistress, but WPA interviews attest to the prevalence of quiltmaking in the slave quarters for their own use as well. Some slave seamstresses became highly regarded for their skill.

How were quilts used in the Civil War?

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 the oldest quilt pattern?

The Crazy Quilt is probably the oldest of quilt patterns. Early quilters used any scrap or remnant available, regardless of its color, design, or fabric type.

What does shoofly quilt mean?

Shoofly: A symbol that possibly identifies a person who can guide and help; a person who helped slaves escape along the Underground Railroad and who knew the codes. Some sources say it indicated a safe house along the Underground Railroad.

How many quilters are there in the world?

There are currently 10-12 million quilters and the quilting market is expected to approach $5 billion by 2026-2027. In 2020 there was a more than 12% increase in the number of new quilters.

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.

How much does a barn quilt cost?

What does it cost to have a barn quilt? The average cost is $350 which is for an 8′ X 8′ block. Depending on the size of the barn and distance from a public road, the block may be smaller or larger.

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.

Quilts of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia

Describes a contentious concept that quilts were used to relay information to African slaves about how they may escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad, as described in Quilts of the Underground Railroad. A lot of historians have expressed their disagreement with this claim.

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.

In order to acquire the deeper meaning of symbols, you must first demonstrate your merit of knowing these higher meanings by not disclosing them to others,” she explained. The foreword of Hidden in Plain View was written by Wahlman.

Response

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.

References

  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?) usnews.com. 30th of April, 2012
  14. Retrieved

Sources

  • 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.
See also:  When Did Harriet Tubman Start The Underground Railroad? (TOP 5 Tips)

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.

  1. I can see the potential benefits of such a system.
  2. I really want to think that took place.
  3. Sharon Tindall is a quilter and instructor who lives in Virginia.
  4. Johnson House, which was built in 1768 in the center of Germantown, has woodwork, flooring, and glass that are all original to the building.
  5. “I took a tour around the area to see where people slept and ate.
  6. The presence of the slaves, as well as the Johnson family who protected them, was represented by the hues in the quilt’s sky.
  7. 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.

Tindall is a believer in and supporter of codes, despite the fact that 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 used.

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 modern 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 already making coded quilts for their daughters and grandchildren, and this will continue to be the case in the future.

The genealogy of patchwork code-using artists 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.

Did Quilts Hold Codes to the Underground Railroad?

According to two scholars, African American slaves may have utilized a patchwork code to navigate the Underground Railroad during their time as slaves. According to the duo, quilts with designs such as “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw” appear to have included secret signals that guided slaves to freedom. The quilt code idea was initially proposed by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard in their book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, which was released in 1998 and has been around for six years.

McDaniel maintains that the secret of the quilt code was passed down from one generation to the next by her foremothers and forefathers.

The Code

McDaniel detailed the code in a series of conversations with Tobin and Dobard, which included the following: Plantation seamstresses would create a sampler quilt, which would have several distinct quilt designs. Slaves would learn the code with the help of the sampler. The seamstress then stitched ten quilts, each of which was made up of a different design from the code. The quilts would be hung in plain view by the seamstress one at a time, allowing the slaves to reinforce their recall of the design and the meaning connected with the pattern.

  1. According to historians, the first quilt made by the seamstress to be displayed had a wrench pattern on it.
  2. In this pattern, slaves were instructed to pack their possessions because they would be embarking on a lengthy journey.
  3. “You were intended to follow in the bear’s actual footsteps,” Dobard explained.
  4. When Dobard finished the last quilt, she used a tumbling blocks design that she described as appearing like a collection of boxes.

“It was only exhibited when specific requirements were met, and that was the case with this quilt. If, for example, there was an agent of the Underground Railroad in the vicinity, “Dobard expressed himself. “It was a clear indicator that it was time to pack up and leave.”

Fact or Myth?

Since its publication, the quilt-code idea has been the subject of heated debate. Quilt historians and experts on the Underground Railroad have questioned the methods used in the study, as well as the veracity of its conclusions. Giles R. Wright, a historian located in New Jersey, argues that there is a scarcity of supporting material. Quilt codes are not mentioned in either the slave narratives from the nineteenth century or the oral accounts of former slaves from the 1930s. In addition, there are no original quilts left.

  1. “They provide no proof, no paperwork, in support of that claim,” says the author.
  2. I was thinking to myself, “Who is going to take notes on their actions and what they meant.it may get into the wrong hands?” Dobard expressed himself.
  3. “Take, for example, the nature of quilts.
  4. “It is unreasonable to expect a quilt that has been kept within the slave community for more than a hundred years to still be in existence.” Fact or fiction, most people agree that the concept of a patchwork code is intriguing.

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.

  • “There was a code, an unwritten code.
  • Simmons went into detail about the significance of each patch on her quilt.
  • 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.
  • “It’s a tool in the same way that a genuine monkey wrench is,” Simmons explained.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • As a result of the restricted weight and space available, they had to carry things that were vital for survival.
  • It was pointed out by Simmons that the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” made reference to a wagon wheel.
See also:  Where Were The Underground Railroad Routes? (Best solution)

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.

  1. In order to avoid being eaten by a bear, “you would follow their paws and their trail.
  2. 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.
  3. A major crossroads occurred in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, as Simmons explained.
  4. I’m traveling to see someone in another city and rely on Google Maps to get there.
  5. Running away to a shoofly for clothes is something that may happen.
  6. “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.
  7. “There were some northern states that empathized with slaves, and there were some northern states who were opposed to it,” she explained.
  8. Lesson in Learning Many people, including Miriam Omura, who was in attendance, found this seminar to be a valuable learning experience.
  9. She gained a better understanding of the symbols that were utilized on the Underground Railroad.
  10. “It was nice to learn about even more of the ones I was unaware of,” says the author.
  11. “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.

History of underground railroad quilts, african quilts

The quilts of the underground railroad have an interesting history, which you can read about here. Although there is no written record of the codes that may have been present, historians have discovered some trustworthy evidence in documented verbal testimonies that demonstrate the significance of the quilts in aiding slaves on their journey to liberty.

Harriet Tubman and The Under ground Railroad

Harriet Tubman is widely recognized as the founder of the Underground Railroad, which assisted thousands of slaves in their escape from southern plantations during the mid-nineteenth century. However, what is less widely known is the fact that quilts were used to guide slaves to freedom in the northern states during the Civil War. Quilt designs included a complicated system of codes, and those attempting to flee learned how to read the codes as they made their way down the Underground Railway’s path.

Because the majority of black people who were confined in slavery were unable to write or read, it was vital to devise a straightforward method of delivering the information.

The quilts may include information about which road to go, where a safe place could be found, and/or where to contact individuals who would be willing to provide food and shelter for a night or more.

Among the countless songs, dances, and gestures that slaves had created were some that carried signals and information that were critical to their survival.

Forming landscape quilts to guide

The codes that were used in the Underground Railroad quilts were devised by slaves, freed blacks, and white individuals who were opposed to the system of slavery and who wanted to see slavery abolished. It was imperative that these codes be kept secret, and even the smallest children were aware that this knowledge was to be kept safe at all times. African people were the originators of many of the patterns that may be found in Underground Railway quilts. During the traumatic years of slavery, they were passed down from one generation to the next and served as a means of preserving their history and culture alive for future generations.

Patterns with specific knots, stitching colors, or shape can provide an abundance of information.

Given the fact that quilts were typical household objects, they could be hung from trees and fences, as well as from windows, porches, and clotheslines, where they would be plainly visible to anybody passing by.

Because this was the method by which quilts were washed and aired out, they did not draw the notice of slave owners, overseers, or those who were paid to track down fugitive slaves and their descendants.

Log cabin quilt patterns

The Star, the Monkey Wrench, and the Crossroads were among the designs that were supposed to have direct significance for persons traveling on the Underground Railway system. There are three further patterns that are said to have included crucial directions and signals for fleeing slaves. These are the Tumbling Blocks, Bear’s Paws, and Wagon Wheel motifs. An indication of where to locate food was provided by the Nine Patch pattern, while the Log Cabin design in a quilt provided information about shelters that were available to those who needed it.

  • Having a blue center on the Log Cabin design might indicate that the pattern is associated with a safe haven.
  • A quilt’s role in our history has been rather intriguing, since it has had a purpose other than simply being decorative and keeping us warm.
  • We know what we know, we believe what we believe, and we are inspired by what we have learned about the Underground Railroad quilt codes.
  • This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may get a commission on the sale.

Why did slaves use quilts in the Underground Railroad?

For individuals heading to London’s Underground Railway system, patterns such as the Star, Monkey Wrench, and Crossroads were believed to have direct significance for them. There are three more patterns that are said to have included crucial directions and signals for fleeing slaves. These are the Tumbling Blocks, Bear’s Paws, and Wagon Wheel motifs, among others. The Nine Patch design in a quilt served as a guide to where to locate food, while the Log Cabin design in a quilt served as a guide to where to find shelter.

Having a blue center on the Log Cabin design might indicate that the pattern is a safe residence.

Over the course of history, quilts have played an important role in society, serving purposes beyond than simply being decorative and keeping people warm.

Information about the Relationship Between the Subject and the Subject Matter: “affiliate links” are used in some of the links in the previous paragraph.

As a result, if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may get a commission from the retailer. The following rights are reserved: 2006-2021 Copyright

Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Approximately 6,500 students from local schools have visited the exhibit, which demonstrates the thesis of the patchwork code.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Men are the ones who do it.
  • Then I inquire as to who produced the quilts.
  • 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.
  • We’re sending messages and symbols right under the noses of white people, and they haven’t even realized it.
  • 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.
  • “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.”

Myths About the Underground Railroad

When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.

  1. Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
  2. The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
  3. I think this is a common misconception among students.
  4. As described by Wilbur H.
  5. Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
See also:  Why Does Douglass Disapprove Of The Underground Railroad?

The Railroad in Lore

Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.

6.

When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.

scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.

First, a brief overview of the Underground Railroad’s history:

A Meme Is Born

As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.

It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.

Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.

According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.

  • The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
  • constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
  • 14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T.
  • Torrey.

Myth Battles Counter-Myth

Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.

Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.

Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.

In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”

Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism

That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.

  1. The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
  2. Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
  3. After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
  4. Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
  5. The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
  6. For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
  7. For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.

(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.

3.

I’m afraid there aren’t many.

Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.

What about freedom quilts?

The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.

As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.

No one has a definitive answer.

According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.

We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).

The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.

However, just a few of them made it to safety.

How did the fugitive get away?

John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.

Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.

Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.

What is “Steal Away”?

They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.

However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.

Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?

According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.

Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.

Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.

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