How were quilts used during the Underground Railroad? What do the symbols mean? Whether or not it's completely valid, I have no idea, but it makes sense with the amount of research we did. [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? "[10], Even so, there are museums, schools, and others who believe the story to be true. 12 Interesting Facts About The Underground Railroad | APECSEC.org 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. ", This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 16:43. He says that most of the people who successfully escaped slavery were "enterprising and well informed. And sometimes that story has far reaching influence. [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. Fact, fiction, folklore, or a bit of all three: Did runaway slaves seek clues in the patterns of handmade quilts, strategically placed by members of the Underground Railroad? In Colson Whitehead’s Latest, the Underground Railroad Is More … Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on … [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. Some of the folklore has some inexplicable discrepancies like the bears paw pattern. Were secret codes, camouflaged into slave-made quilts, used in the Underground Railroad? Books that emphasize quilt use. 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. We know them today as the designs that make antique quilts so special and unique. LOL! Log cabin quilt in red, green, and black wool, circa 1850. [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. Title: Quilts; Underground Railroad 1 Quilts Underground Railroad. Via/ Wiki Commons. Presented by quilter, Micki Angyal. Most certainly not. The theory that quilts and songs were used to communicate information about the Underground Railroad, though is disputed among historians. Most of the “workers” on the Underground Railroad were white abolitionists. [7], Giles Wright, an Underground Railroad expert, asserts that the book is based upon folklore that is unsubstantiated by other sources. All rights reserved. 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. 1893 painting of what the Underground Railroad might have looked like. Either way, to follow this route would have taken much longer and been much less direct, leading to an increased chance of being caught. 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. 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. Quilts communicate. Owned and operated by Great Life Publishing, a GreaterGood company. Various blocks in the quilts gave the slaves clues as to where they had to go. 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. 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. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. The justice meted out in the Mountains was sure and swift, making it different from that in the surrounding community. Stan Grizzle, our 2019 Black History Monthpresenter attended and he recalls his grandmother telling stories about the quilts … Jul 18, 2017 - Explore Cynthia Mocklar's board "Underground Railroad Quilts" on Pinterest. – 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. But, would hanging a quilt out on the line been the most inconspicuous way to do achieve this? He also stated there was no mark stating he had to knock. 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. Presenters Bridgett, Edith, Rosetta, Gayle, and Patricia; 2 Questions to think about? Every quilt tells a story. no wonder he met an older gal with a 30-06. Slaves created so-called “freedo… 4. “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. It has been disputed by a number of historians. 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. 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. In the book Jackie and I set out to say it was a set of directives. Fact Sheet . A partial list of some of the most common myths about the Underground Railroad would include the following: 1. [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. 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. [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. 7:00 p.m. Well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers, ran it. The Archives, 178 McKellar Street. June 8, 2020 Mary Simpson. [3] Williams stated that the quilts had ten squares, each with a message about how to successfully escape. 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. It’s no big surprise that the Quilt Code story caught on. "[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". Were secret codes, camouflaged into slave-made quilts, used in the Underground Railroad? There were distinct routes along the Underground Railroad that slaves followed. Underground Railroad Code: fact or fiction? | World Quilts: The American Story A class debrief is completed through a series of questions. 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. Quilts have always been a source of communication. Divide your team into two groups - one group of believers and the other of non-believers in the quilts. Now most experts question whether this actually happened. [4] The book claims that there was a quilt code that conveyed messages in counted knots and quilt block shapes, colors and names. 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. He said the house was marked as friendly. Quilts and codes: Folklore or fact, quilted messages of the … Visit the websites below to read about the debate about the quilts. What are the origins of quilting? Underground Railroad Quilts? 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. 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. "There’s a tradition in Africa where coding things is controlled by secret societies. Oct 1, 2019 - Explore Cheryl Christmas's board "Underground Railroad", followed by 534 people on Pinterest. [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. It was a beginning, not an end-all, to stir people to think and share those stories. 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. 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. Your team has mixed feelings about this topic. Unravelling the Myth of Quilts and the Underground Railroad - TIME It is said that abolitionists and free blacks along the route of the Underground See more ideas about underground railroad, underground, harriet tubman. 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. 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