Presented by quilter, Micki Angyal. [6], Even though the book tells the story from the perspective of one family, folk art expert Maud Wahlman believes that it is possible that the hypothesis is true. Underground Railroad quilt code: fact or fiction. [4] Quilt historians Kris Driessen, Barbara Brackman, and Kimberly Wulfert do not believe the theory that quilts were used to communicate messages about the Underground Railroad. June 8, 2020 Mary Simpson. Slaves created so-called “freedo… The theory that quilts and songs were used to communicate information about the Underground Railroad, though is disputed among historians. 2. Former slave photographed in the 1930s, name unknown. In the book Jackie and I set out to say it was a set of directives. See more ideas about underground railroad, underground, harriet tubman. Quilts and codes: Folklore or fact, quilted messages of the … [2] The idea for the book came from Ozella McDaniel Williams who told Tobin that her family had passed down a story for generations about how patterns like wagon wheels, log cabins, and wrenches were used in quilts to navigate the Underground Railroad. [5] In a 2007 Time magazine article, Tobin stated: "It's frustrating to be attacked and not allowed to celebrate this amazing oral story of one family's experience. Americans eager to discuss slavery are fascinated by tales of quilts used as signals in the dangerous journey to freedom. He says that most of the people who successfully escaped slavery were "enterprising and well informed. "[4] He called the book "informed conjecture, as opposed to a well-documented book with a "wealth of evidence". ©2021 Great Life Publishing and GreaterGood. Whether fact or fiction, the idea of quilts being used on the Underground Railroad to communicate to runaway slaves is both an intriguing idea and a plausible one. no wonder he met an older gal with a 30-06. Quilts communicate. Were secret codes, camouflaged into slave-made quilts, used in the Underground Railroad? Glencoe. "[7] Fergus Bordewich, the author of Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, calls it "fake history", based upon the mistaken premise that the Underground Railroad activities "were so secret that the truth is essentially unknowable". "[10], Even so, there are museums, schools, and others who believe the story to be true. Whether or not it's completely valid, I have no idea, but it makes sense with the amount of research we did. Every quilt tells a story. Oct 1, 2019 - Explore Cheryl Christmas's board "Underground Railroad", followed by 534 people on Pinterest. Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on the Underground Railroad? They can say volumes. But, there is little hard evidence that these quilt symbols were used in this way. [1], The 1999 book Hidden in Plain View, by Raymond Dobard, Jr., an art historian, and Jacqueline Tobin, a college instructor in Colorado, explores how quilts were used to communicate information about the Underground Railroad. The book at the center of the controversy, Hidden in Plain View, A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Raymond Dobard and Jacqueline Tobin (1999), offers no documentary evidence that the theory advanced is valid, cites no independent sources, and offers in illustration newly made quilts. The Underground Railroad operated throughout the South. [4], "Unravelling the Myth of Quilts and the Underground Railroad", "In Douglass Tribute, Slave Folklore and Fact Collide", "Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps? John Reddick, who worked on the Douglass sculpture project for Central Park, states that it is paradoxical that historians require written evidence of slaves who were not allowed to read and write. We know them today as the designs that make antique quilts so special and unique. A class debrief is completed through a series of questions. Via/ Wiki Commons. [4][7][10][11] Civil War historian David W. Blight, said "At some point the real stories of fugitive slave escape, as well as the much larger story of those slaves who never could escape, must take over as a teaching priority. But, would hanging a quilt out on the line been the most inconspicuous way to do achieve this? [7][8][9], Controversy in the hypothesis became more intense in 2007 when plans for a sculpture of Frederick Douglass at a corner of Central Park called for a huge quilt in granite to be placed in the ground to symbolize the manner in which slaves were aided along the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was active until the Civil War ended, meaning there were decades to develop subtle codes and symbols which might have been helpful. Fact or Fiction? Slave quilts fact or fiction? Either way, to follow this route would have taken much longer and been much less direct, leading to an increased chance of being caught. In anticipation of Colson Whitehead’s visit to campus, three Lesley professors held a symposium in Washburn Lounge to discuss 4. Your team has mixed feelings about this topic. Beginning as early as the late 1700s following the first of the Fugitive Slave Acts in 1793, the Underground Railroad was supported by two main religious groups: the Quakers and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. For every phrase write fact or fiction on your paper. It has been disputed by a number of historians. But, there are those who have long taken for granted that the symbols used in quilts of the South during slavery were actually used as secret messages for slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers, ran it. Log cabin quilt in red, green, and black wool, circa 1850. Owned and operated by Great Life Publishing, a GreaterGood company. One idea is that the seamstress of a plantation would train the other slaves as to what the quilt symbols meant and then hang out the ones that were relevant to upcoming journeys, like when a conductor was coming into the area. [4] The book claims that there was a quilt code that conveyed messages in counted knots and quilt block shapes, colors and names. Now most experts question whether this actually happened. The Archives, 178 McKellar Street. Whatever you believe, the quilts of the 19th century are some the finest ever made and the feats of those who traversed the Underground Railroad truly some of the most courageous this country has seen. The folklore of certain quilts being used as symbols has been presumed true by many, with books Some believe the quilts to be a fact and some believe them to be fiction. Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on … LOL! Title: Quilts; Underground Railroad 1 Quilts Underground Railroad. Most fugitive slaves who made it to the North found sanctuary along the way in secret rooms concealed in attics or cellars, and many escaped through tunnels. Wyse Talk with Jan Doyle; Quilts In The Underground Railroad: Fact or Fiction. Books that emphasize quilt use. Unravelling the Myth of Quilts and the Underground Railroad - TIME Presenters Bridgett, Edith, Rosetta, Gayle, and Patricia; 2 Questions to think about? It cannot be proven through recorded historical documents or defendable oral history. The log cabin quilt was said to have been an indication of a safe house, if there was a black square at the center. ", This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 16:43. Wahlman wrote the foreword for Hidden in Plain View. Divide your team into two groups - one group of believers and the other of non-believers in the quilts. [4] Noted historians did not believe that the hypothesis was true and saw no connection between Douglass and this belief. He likens the coding of the quilts to the language in Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, in which slaves meant escaping but their masters thought was about dying. Some of the folklore has some inexplicable discrepancies like the bears paw pattern. He said the house was marked as friendly. 1893 painting of what the Underground Railroad might have looked like. It ought to be rooted in real and important aspects of his life and thought, not a piece of folklore largely invented in the 1990s which only reinforces a soft, happier version of the history of slavery that distracts us from facing harsher truths and a more compelling past. | World Quilts: The American Story Were secret codes, camouflaged into slave-made quilts, used in the Underground Railroad? What are the origins of quilting? This kind of logic undermines the assumption that quilts were used as code since so little of the clues makes sense when placed under scrutiny. It was a beginning, not an end-all, to stir people to think and share those stories. Hidden in Plain View, based on interviews with elderly African American quilter Ozella Williams, seems to tell the story of how symbols were used to direct escaping slaves. All charitable donations are paid by GreaterGood.org to benefiting organizations as a grant. And sometimes that story has far reaching influence. The Underground Railroad was the network of abolitionists – both black and white – who helped enslaved persons escape via a network of safe houses and shelters. Another widely publicized theory is that safe places or abolitionist homes along the way would hang out certain quilts in order to further direct slaves escaping the South. Stan Grizzle, our 2019 Black History Monthpresenter attended and he recalls his grandmother telling stories about the quilts … 7:00 p.m. Next, individual students determine which excerpts have the strongest evidence for There were distinct routes along the Underground Railroad that slaves followed. The justice meted out in the Mountains was sure and swift, making it different from that in the surrounding community. – US News and World Report", National Museum of Australia - 1894 Autograph Quilt, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, The Railroad to Freedom: A Story of the Civil War, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Quilts_of_the_Underground_Railroad&oldid=998274676, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Fellner, Leigh (2010) "Betsy Ross redux: The quilt code. In 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 through the United States and into Canada of "conductors", meeting places, and safe houses for the passage of African Americans out of slavery. Have to also remember back in the days of the underground railroad very few slaves could read and therefore had to relay on different signals. If you want to learn the deeper meaning of symbols, then you need to show worthiness of knowing these deeper meanings by not telling anyone," she said. Visit the websites below to read about the debate about the quilts. Amongst the patterns which are said to have held meaning for enslaved persons on the Underground Railroad was the monkey wrench pattern, which supposedly advised slaves to begin to pack the things they would need for their journey. 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. Most of the “workers” on the Underground Railroad were white abolitionists. Find Out What Makes Stradivarius Instruments So Unique, The Painstaking Process of Making a Persian Rug. [3] Williams stated that the quilts had ten squares, each with a message about how to successfully escape. In Colson Whitehead’s Latest, the Underground Railroad Is More … Jul 18, 2017 - Explore Cynthia Mocklar's board "Underground Railroad Quilts" on Pinterest. Quilts have always been a source of communication. Books featuring the Underground Railroad - The Novel Tourist He also stated there was no mark stating he had to knock. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. In 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 through the United States and into Canada of "conductors", meeting places, and safe houses for the passage of African Americans out of slavery. After the U.S. Congress passed the Compromise of 1850, the law forced free northern states to return escaped slaves. A partial list of some of the most common myths about the Underground Railroad would include the following: 1. See more ideas about underground railroad quilts, underground railroad, quilts. Slaves escaping to freedom via the Underground Railroad in the dark of night, their way mapped for them by quilts hanging on clotheslines or low-hanging branches–all the elements of a great saga are here: heroes, villains, dangerous journeys, secret knowledge, the dream of freedom. Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard. How were quilts used during the Underground Railroad? Other patterns that have been included in the quilt code are the wagon wheel, drunkard’s path, and tumbling blocks. Fact Sheet . [7], Giles Wright, an Underground Railroad expert, asserts that the book is based upon folklore that is unsubstantiated by other sources. I'm still going to believe it to be non-fiction. Via/ Wiki Commons. The "Quilt Code" A hot topic in Black History is the story of quilts and the Underground Railroad. Various blocks in the quilts gave the slaves clues as to where they had to go. Via/ Library of Congress. "[3] Dobard said, "I would say there has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the code. This pattern has been alternately said to warn those escaping that they would have to travel through bear country (the mountains) or an instruction for them to follow bear tracks because they would to food and water. To many of us, the use of quilts as messengers on the Underground Railroad (UGRR) is a myth. It might be disappointing for those who love antique quits to hear that this intriguing story isn’t true, but there is still so much to love about them just based on the work that went into each one alone. Even so, escaping slavery was generally an act of "complex, sophisticated and covert systems of planning". It is said that abolitionists and free blacks along the route of the Underground The first “stops” along the Underground Railroad were found in the South. 3. It’s no big surprise that the Quilt Code story caught on. [3] He also said that there are no memoirs, diaries, or Works Progress Administration interviews conducted in the 1930s of ex-slaves that mention quilting codes. Underground Railroad Quilts? "There’s a tradition in Africa where coding things is controlled by secret societies. Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad in 2000 from authors Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard. Underground Railroad Quilt Patterns Meanings - Quilt Pattern All rights reserved. 12 Interesting Facts About The Underground Railroad | APECSEC.org It is a concept that seemed to descend on the quilt world in the late 1990s, following the publication of, "Hidden in Plain View" (HIPV), written by two professors: J. Tobin and R. Dobard, PhD. It started with a monkey wrench, that meant to gather up necessary supplies and tools, and ended with a star, which meant to head north. The Underground Railroad : Myths of the Underground Railroad : … What do the symbols mean? Underground Railroad Code: fact or fiction? Most certainly not. The symbols used in quilt making often have a complicated or unknown history. “The Underground Railroad has several stations in the [Welsh] Mountains, and secrecy was not just a buzzword, as breaking the code of silence could mean death. 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