Log Cabin: This symbol was used in a quilt or drawn on the ground to indicate that it was necessary to seek shelter. It also meant that a person was safe to speak with. Some sources even say it indicated a safe house along the Underground Railroad.
What were quilts used for 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?
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. Slaves named these quilts… Freedom Quilts.
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.
What does the Bear Paw quilt symbolize?
The Bear’s Paw quilt was hung to encourage Underground Railroad passengers to follow bear excrement on the path. That way they would be able to find water and food.
Where is the freedom quilt?
Freedom Quilt | National Museum of African American History and Culture.
What was the quilt theory?
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 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.
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 is the significance of barn quilts?
Barn quilts tell stories about individual farms, historical events or communities while also adding visual interest to the countryside and increasing rural tourism.
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.
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.
- Johnson House, which was built in 1768 in the center of Germantown, has woodwork, flooring, and glass that are all original to the building.
- “I took a walk around the area to see where they slept and ate.
- The presence of the slaves, as well as the Johnson family who protected them, was represented by the hues in the quilt’s sky.
- 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 might agree that her belief provides poetic justifications for belief as opposed to fact.
“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 nearly 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.
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.
- According to historians, the first quilt made by the seamstress to be displayed had a wrench pattern on it.
- In this pattern, slaves were instructed to pack their possessions because they would be embarking on a lengthy journey.
- “You were intended to follow in the bear’s actual footsteps,” Dobard explained.
- 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?
McDaniel detailed the code in detail over a series of meetings with Tobin and Dobard. Plantation seamstresses would create a sampler quilt, which would have a variety of various quilt designs. Using the sampler, slaves would be able to recall the code. In the next weeks, the seamstress stitched 10 quilts, each one made up of a pattern from the code. The quilts were hung in plain view by the seamstress one at a time, allowing the slaves to reinforce their recall of the design and the message it represented.
- The first quilt the seamstress displayed, according to historians, included a wrench pattern.
- In this pattern, slaves were instructed to pack their possessions since they would be embarking on a lengthy journey.
- As Dobard said, “you were expected to follow the bear’s actual footsteps.” Water, fruit, and other natural food sources are always popular with bears.
- “It was only exhibited when specific criteria were met, which made it a very special quilt.
- “This was said by Dobard.
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.
Gladys-Marie Fry asserted in Stitched from the Soul(1990) 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 for the purpose of facilitating the emancipation of African American slaves. Scholars disagree on whether or not quilts and songs were utilized to transmit information about the Underground Railroad during their time period.
- When art historian Raymond Dobard Jr.
- It was Ozella McDaniel Williams who conceived the concept for the book, telling Tobin that her family had been telling a narrative for generations about how patterns like as wagon wheels, log homes, and wrenches were included into quilts to help slaves travel the Underground Railroad.
- Beginning with a monkey wrench, which represented the need to gather supplies and tools, and concluding with a star, which represented the need to travel north.
- During an interview with Time magazine in 2007, Tobin noted, “It’s upsetting to be attacked while also being denied the opportunity to commemorate this incredible oral history of one family’s experience.
- Throughout the book, Jackie and I emphasized that it was a series of instructions.
- Instead of a well-documented work with a “rich of evidence,” he referred to the book’s content as “educated guess.” However, even though the book narrates the narrative from the perspective of a single family, folk art specialist Maud Wahlman feels that the notion may be correct.
- The foreword toHidden in Plain View was written by Wahlman himself.
- Cecelia Pedescleaux is a quilt scholar and quilter who specializes on the Underground Railroad.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Reynolds, Glenn (2007). “quilts.” Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- AbFergus M. Bordewich, p. 7, ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
- (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
- Retrieved 30 April 2012
- 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
- Celeste-Marie Bernier and Hannah Durkin are two of the most talented young women in the world of fashion (2016). Across the African Diaspora, artists have created works that depict slavery and its effects. Page 76–77 of Oxford University Press’s book, “The Oxford Companion to the English Language.” Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard (ISBN 978-1-78138-267-7)
- (1999). Quilts and the Underground Railroad have a secret history that is hidden in plain sight. Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, N.Y., ISBN 0-385-49137-9
- ABC-CLIO. Stacie Stukin is a woman who lives in the United States of America (2007-04-03). Making Sense of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” is a book about debunking myths and discovering the truth about the Underground Railroad. TIME. On April 29, 2007, an archived version of this article appeared. On January 23, 2013, abcdef was retrieved. Noam Cohen is a writer and musician from New York City who lives in the Bronx (January 23, 2007). A collision of Slave Folklore and Fact is witnessed in the Douglass Tribute.” New York Times (New York, New York, United States of America) ISSN0362-4331. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman were able to get a hold of the information on April 30, 2012. (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. 128 (ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9)
- Reynolds, Glenn (2007), “quilts.” Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 128 (ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9)
- Reynolds, Glenn (2006), “quilts.” Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. Citation: Rodriguez, Junius P. (ed.). The Slave Resistance and Rebellion Encyclopedia is a resource for those interested in the history of slave resistance and revolt. Page numbers 407–409 are provided by the Greenwood Publishing Group. 978-0-313-33273-9
- Bartholomew, Andrew (February 1, 2007). “Prof. Douglass dispels Douglass myth.” The Yale Daily News is a daily newspaper published at Yale University. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman retrieved on March 19, 2017
- (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Incorporated, ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
- Arcadia Publishing, Inc., p. 127.ISBN 1-62585-701-9
- Barbara Brackman is a writer and editor who lives in the United States of America (November 5, 2010). First-person accounts of slavery are included in eight projects and twenty blocks in the book, Facts, Fabrications, and Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: Eight projects and twenty blocks in the book, Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: Eight projects and twenty blocks in the book, Slavery: Eight projects and twenty blocks in the book p. 7
- ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
- AbFergus M. Bordewich, C T Publishing Inc. (February 2, 2007). “The tangled web of history.” New York Times (New York, New York, United States of America) ISSN0362-4331. On the 30th of April, 2012, it was discovered that Ms. Diane Cole is a professional writer and editor who lives in the United Kingdom (2012). US News and World Report published an article titled “Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps?”. usnews.com. 30th of April, 2012
- Retrieved from
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. Former slave, whose identity is unknown, was photographed in the 1930s. 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
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.
- 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.”
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.
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.
For slaves, quilts likely held codes to freedom
It is believed that more than 100,000 slaves journeyed from the southern United States to the northern United States in search of freedom between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War via what is known as the Underground Railroad. A network of safe homes and stations, rather than a railroad, was established to aid and assist slaves on their trip north over thousands of miles of harsh terrain to Ohio and Canada, where they might aspire to be free men and women. There were no ties, no tracks, and no railroad at all.
- Tubman most likely utilized a coded language and songs to warn slaves of impending peril and, conversely, to assure them of their safety.
- According to Doris Koeneman, a Columbia Falls quilter and member of the Teakettle Quilt Guild, a quilt hanging on a line outside a home may very easily signal a safe haven or other essential instructions to an escaped slave, the majority of whom were unable to read.
- If you understand the significance of the squares, you will be able to discern the directions for the voyage.
- The quilt’s colors are subdued in order to reflect the dyes that would have been employed at the time of its creation.
- Koeneman has worked as a seamstress for many years.
- She has a degree in dressmaking and design, and she used to work as a professional dressmaker and designer while she lived in Oregon.
- Koeneman and the other members of the guild expressed their desire for the quilt to be displayed at the Columbia Falls library in honor of Black History Month, according to her.
Stitching Together History
The tale of slave quilts begins with words that are transferred from mouth to ear, from ear to heart, from heart to hand, and lastly to paper, where the words are finally captured on paper. Some believe the story to be true, while others believe it to be a fiction.
After more than 150 years, and more than 150 years after the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted, formally ending slavery in the United States, the narrative of concealed codes in quilts intended to facilitate the escape of enslaved men and women remains a story for the time being.
Just a Little Sampler
Eleanor Burns released a book in 2003 titled Underground Railroad Sampler, which is a part of her Quilt in a Day series, which can be seen on television, online, and in print all over the globe. When Burns was young, his mother taught him the basics of sewing. He went on to revolutionize the quilting industry by creating speedier cutting, piecing, and stitching procedures. Her reputation as one of the world’s most famous quilters is widely acknowledged by contemporary quilters. When she sews the parts back together, people are more likely to pay attention.
- Slave travelers on the Underground Railroad might have utilized a form of code to communicate while going from bondage to freedom, as demonstrated by ten of the blocks.
- The arrival of the Wagon Wheel quilt block signaled the beginning of a journey.
- For example, the Crossroads quilt block meant the existence of a town ahead, while the Log Cabin quilt block denoted that there was an upcoming safe house—depending on which color of the center quilt block was used, of course.
- An agent of the Underground Railroad was expected to be nearby if the sixth block was made in the Shoofly pattern; a Bowtie quilt block advised slaves to remove their old slave clothes and dress as freedmen and women if the seventh block was made in the Shoofly pattern.
- Finally, the North Star quilt block served as a continual reminder that the north represented Canada, and Canada represented freedom from oppression.
Burns acknowledges that she has taught the story for many years, and that she became particularly interested in designing a specific Underground Railroad quilt after readingHidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, a book by historianJacqueline Tobin and art history professorRaymond G.
Throughout this book, the reader will meet South CarolinianOzella McDaniel Williams, who will share a narrative passed down from generation to generation about secret codes concealed in quilts that allowed Ozella’s ancestors and others escape from slavery and find freedom in the United States.
- Gladys-Marie Fry had a book published.
- Despite the fact that Fry refers to quilt codes as truth, the concept that slaves used quilt codes to get freedom has been adopted by children’s fiction writers as well.
- In addition, instructors all around the country have used these children’s picture books to teach pupils about the Underground Railroad, as well as the premise that codes hidden in quilts assisted slaves in their attempts to flee.
- Is the tale, however, accurate?
In the case of the late University of Louisville lecturer, Tressa Brown, the African American Heritage Commission coordinator with the Kentucky Heritage Council, argues that there was “no evidence to corroborate the very wonderful tale.” When it comes to hidden codes or messages embroidered into quilts, Judy Schwender, the curator of collections and the registrar at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, agrees with Brown that the notion is completely false.
“When the hypothesis of quilts being used as signals on the Underground Railroad is exposed to the examination of genuine historical research, it is found to be unfounded,” Schwender concludes.
In September, she spoke at the 2016 Ohio River National Freedom Corridor Underground Railroad Conference in Cincinnati on the topic “Were Quilts Really Used as Signals on the Underground Railroad?” “This period of American history ought to be remembered with reverence and integrity,” Schwender argues.
Who or what is the truth, if the tale in “this glorious history” is to serve as the beginning point from which we learn all that has gone on in the past?
Stitches of Truth
The first Africans to set foot on the land that would become known as South Carolina did so in 1526. In 1619, a group of Africans thought to be indentured slaves were reported at Jamestown, Virginia, according to historical records. Within 50 years, established colonies recognized slavery, and rules governing the treatment of slaves as chattel, or property, were enacted, published, and enforced throughout the world. It was with an African servant that explorers first walked the wild and unexplored wilderness of what would later be known as Kentucky in 1751, and it was with an African servant that Daniel Boone established a settlement at Fort Boonesborough in 1775, bringing with him a “group of African laborers.” As the population expanded from the east to the west and from the north to the south, so grew the need for slave labor.
As resistance to slavery rose, so did the number of those who supported it.
As a result of the invention of the cotton gin in 1792 and passage of the Fugitive Slave Act by the United States Congress in 1793, which protected slave owners’ rights to recover their runaway slaves even in free states, the slave trade became even more profitable as a result of the expansion of the slave trade.
- In 1833, Kentucky passed legislation prohibiting the importation of slaves; but, the business of slavery was so enticing that it lasted for decades after the law was repealed.
- Researchers believe that the Underground Railroad, a network of escape routes for people seeking liberation from slavery, enabled thousands of fugitive slaves on their trek north to freedom during the American Civil War.
- Brown, of the Kentucky Heritage Council, recalls discussing about the Underground Railroad with the late Dr.
- “He stated that it was quite difficult to investigate some sites, and that there was a good explanation for the lack of documentation: you didn’t want to be nailed with it.” People weren’t conversing with one another, and they didn’t have faith in one another either.
- “He was certain that the majority of the escapes were made by the people who got there first.
It was clearly true that there was a “underground” component to it, but portraying it as if there was a determined, overarching strategy wasn’t necessarily the how things worked, especially early on.” In slave tales, a genre that arose in the late 1800s, people of color were able to bear witness to the horrors of slavery as well as the struggles of men and women of color who yearned for freedom.
With his assistance in assisting hundreds of slaves to escape to freedom, Still is regarded as one of the most famous individuals on the Underground Railroad.
Still documented the experiences of African-American men and women who attempted to flee slavery in every way they could, whether through personal narration, the insertion of supporting historical newspaper articles, or through different correspondences.
Some were trying to get away from beatings, a lack of suitable clothing or food, and even incarceration.
Even though Still did not include the gory details that characterize some slave narratives, fugitives who hid out in caves for months to elude capture, boxed themselves into crates and were shipped north, risked death, and even killed their children in the face of recapture did so because they believed they would have more freedom in death than in life were described.
However, these aren’t the kinds of stories that most Kentuckians are familiar with.
The reason you didn’t tell anyone about your journey was because you wanted your family to be able to keep up with you,” Brown adds.
They don’t pay attention to the local stories, which are quite compelling.” The Kentucky Heritage Council has worked to give lesson plans and materials to teachers around the state that outline the importance of African Americans and Native Americans in Kentucky, as well as the authentic, substantiated tales of both groups.
Citizens may never learn if slave quilt codes are a fantasy or a reality by reading and hearing, but they may learn something far more valuable as a result of their efforts.
If we can’t comprehend the person standing next to us, if we can’t grasp the history that exists between us, then I’m not sure where we’re going to end up as a result.
We. It is not about who I am or who you are, but about who we are. This is our collective past, and I believe that this is the most essential thing we have.”
Peace by Piece
Moving through the spacious, well-lit rooms of the historic Bierbower House in Maysville, Crystal Marshall is a sight to see. When she stands in front of the windows that face West Fourth Street, she can see the Ohio River stretching out in front of her. Bierbower House was owned by Jonathan Ayers and his wife, Lucy Carey Bierbower, carriage makers in Maysville around the same time that scholars believe the Underground Railroad began operating in the United States. The Bierbowers, according to legend, operated a safe house.
- A stone-walled chamber may be seen on the first floor of the home’s cellar section.
- It has a story to tell.
- “Checking facts and sources, as well as looking very closely, are the challenges in trying to understand this movement,” says the author.
- She explains that Christine was a woman with a good reputation in the town, a reliable secondary source who contributes to the credibility of the story about the primary source by providing additional information.
- They also read extensively, listen to stories, and look for leads that may shed more light on the history of Kentuckians.
She hopes that visitors will take away two things: the importance of community and the importance of sitting and listening to neighbors, as well as the answer to the question, “If you had space, would you hide someone?” “What we must understand about interpreting movements and how they occur is that they are carried out by individuals who are required to adhere to some sort of moral code.
‘A quilt, a sign, or whatever does not constitute the beginning of a movement,’ Marshall explains.
When Kentuckians take the time to stop and listen, an opportunity to stitch together the pieces of individual lives may present itself, which may result in a better, warmer cover of understanding—a peace brought about by all the little pieces.