Who Made The Quilts About The Underground Railroad?

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.

Did Harriet Tubman make quilts?

Harriet was not good at sewing. As a child her mama and others had tried to teach her but she was all thumbs. For her marriage, though, she made herself a patchwork quilt.

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.

How did barn quilts get started?

The concept of barn quilts began with Donna Sue Groves and her wish to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage by having a painted quilt hung on her barn in Adams County, Ohio. As is often the case, good ideas fall by the wayside when work and other obligations intervene.

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.

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 many trips did Harriet Tubman make during the Underground Railroad?

Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”

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.

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.

What was the code for the Underground Railroad?

The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “ tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in

Where did quilting originate from?

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.

Who started barn quilts?

Barn Quilts Started with Donna Sue Groves in 2001. Contrary to common myth, Donna Sue was not a renown Amish quilter from generations past, but a contemporary quilter in Adams County, Ohio. Donna Sue, being the sweetheart she was, wanted to create a project to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage.

Who invented the barn quilt?

1 Origin of the Modern Quilt Square A woman named of Donna Sue started what are now the oversized, brightly colored barn quilt squares appearing on barns throughout the Midwest and East.

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.

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
See also:  How Did The Underground Railroad Impact History? (TOP 5 Tips)

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.

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 tour around the area to see where people 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 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.

See also:  Why Is Harriet Tubman The Most Celebrated Individual Associated With The Underground Railroad? (Suits you)

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.

  • “They provide no proof, no paperwork, in support of that claim,” says the author.
  • 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.
  • “Take, for example, the nature of quilts.
  • “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.

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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. They fill pages and pages of websites refuting what they perceive to be a fable analogous to George Washington cutting down the cherry tree.
  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

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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AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD – Around The Frame

Anti-slavery activists in the United States and Canada formed the ‘Underground Railroad,’ which provided safe havens for African-American slaves during the American 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 customers. In popular American imagination, quilts were used to designate safe places along the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that there is no documentary evidence to support this.

In the absence of a quilt on a fence, it could be necessary to remain hidden until the quilt (safety) appeared.

The escaping slaves were said to have received explicit directions from certain quilt designs (such as Jacob’s ladder, bear’s paw, flying geese, north star/evening star, log cabin, and others), such as ‘gather the tools you want’, ‘we leave tonight/tomorrow’, or even ‘go three miles north, up the bear’s trail, and then head west’.

During a 1993 interview with historian Jacqueline Tobin, the African-American quilter Mrs.

Although some researchers believe this is true, others are doubtful about such ‘inherited’ memories and knowledge.

Jacqueline L. TOBIN and Raymond G. DOBARD are the authors of this work (2000). “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad,” published by Anchor Books/Random House in New York in 2012. Illustration obtained with digital means (retrieved 30 June 2016). GVE

The Underground Railroad Story in Quilts

Viola Burley Leak Washington, DC Middle Passage 1997 Cotton,cotton blends84″ x 72″CathleenRichardson Bailey Pittsburgh, PA.Shh! 2000-2001Cotton, synthetics, wool, beads, paint 33″ x 30″Myrah Brown GreenBrooklyn, NYDancin’ at the Tree of Life 2000 Cotton, batik, cowrie shells58″ x 45″Myrah Brown GreenBrooklyn, NY Wandering Spirit 1999-2000 Bali batiks, cottons, cotton blends, cowrie shells 78″ x 57″Women in the Hadley family Clinton County, OHand Wayne County, INAbolitionist Quilt c.

  1. Many of these peoplecame to Oberlin and traveled through it with the help of the UndergroundRailroad.
  2. For slaves fleeing from Kentucky andwestern Virginia, this meant that for a distance of about 350 miles, thefirst step toward freedom was just across the Ohio River.
  3. The distancefrom the slave states north to Canada was shortest through Ohio.
  4. Levi Coffin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, JohnMercer Langston, and John Brown were Ohio residents.

Sarah Margru Kinson, youngestcaptive on the notorious slave ship Amistad, was educated in Oberlin.The National Park Service has identified ten Ohio Underground Railroadsites in its National Register of Historic Places, more than exist inany other state.Because the visibilityof the Underground Railroad coincides with the largest quilt revival inhistory, it is not surprising that many quilters choose the UndergroundRailroad and the events that led up to it as the subjects of their quilts.This exhibition,THREADS OF FREEDOM: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD STORYIN QUILTS, is thematic.

  1. The quiltmakers, many from Ohio, range fromself-taught quilters to professionally trained artists.
  2. Among the most powerfulof these quilts areViola Burley Leak ‘sMiddle Passage and two quilts fromCarolyn Mazloomi ‘sSlave Series.BeatriceMitchellmade a quilt for her sailor-nephew, Paul.
  3. She redesigned her border,changing its motif to slave chains.
  4. The signers were members of the Religious Societyof Friends (Quakers).
  5. The Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends opposedabolitionism and supported gradualism instead.
  6. In 1997, theColumbus Metropolitan Quilters Guildmadea quilt depicting Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad.
  7. For manyslaves who successfully traveled from the South to Canada, the most accessiblegoal was Essex County, in southwestern Ontario.

Another map quilt, theAmherstburg Public School Children’sMap Freedom Quiltwas made in 1998 byfifth-gradersinAmherstburg, Essex County, who dedicated their quilt “to any person whodreamt to be free.”Amherstburg and Buxtonwere two of the family-based communities that former slaves establishedin Essex County.

TheBuxton Museum has a collection of eleven quilts made there.

Local familiesstill celebrate reunions and commemorate them with quilts.

In 1982 members ofOberlinSeniorsdocumented Oberlin’s Underground Railroadactivitiesin theOberlin Underground Railroad Quilt.Quiltmakers includedfifth-generation descendants of both fugitive slaves and abolitionists.Their quilt has been used as a teaching tool in the Oberlin public schools.Like the Amherstburg school children, Oberlinthird-gradersmadeanUnderground Railroad Quiltin 1989, as the culminationof a course in local history.Several quilterscommemorated heroines of the Underground Railroad.Cathleen RichardsonBaileymadeSafe House: Tribute to Harriet Tubman and Her Big Gunand Hatchet to strengthen the popular image of HarrietTubman.In 1980 a group of women from northeastern Ohio succeeded in bringingJudy Chicago’sDinner Partyto Cleveland.The Akron Steering Committee of TheOhio-Chicago Art Project, Inc.

made a quilt honoringSojourner Truthfor the InternationalQuilting Bee, which toured withChicago’sexhibit.Ricky Clarkalso made a quilt for the International Quilting Bee.

After working onOhio’sUndergroundTrails, Barbara Paynewent on to make fourUnderground Railroad Quilts of her own.The Todd Family Quiltis one of three nearly identical quilts madeby Ione Todd and her daughter, Deonna.CarolineMazloomi’squilts in this exhibit are part of herSlave Series.

Through quilts the makersspeak to us all of their cultural roots and social concerns.

Althoughthe Underground Railroad was tremendously effective in its time, we stillhave much work to do to ensure true equality and freedom for all Americans.Ricky Clark, QuiltHistorianEditor and co-author,Quilts in Community: Ohio’s Traditions

Akron Steering Committeeof The Ohio-Chicago Art Project, Inc.Akron, Kent and Cleveland, OHIn Honor of Sojourner Truth1981Cottons, cotton blends24″ x 24″ x 24″Courtesy The International Quilting Bee Barbara Payne Columbus, OH The Underground Railroad c. 1998 Cottons, cotton blends 72″ x 59″

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