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. She encountered an old quilt that “was stitched like it had been sewn with a crowbar.”, “It was a map, of course! For Tindall, the quilts become vehicles for the voices and footprints of people running for their lives. Myth: The Underground Railroad used a series of quilt codes to direct freedom seekers. The wide woolen stitching lines were roads.”. Log cabin quilt in red, green, and black wool, circa 1850. Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more. Quilting Coupon & Promo Codes. 10% Off Your Next Order Over $30. “The risk is that it is not a true story,” MacDowell says. Simply put, she has faith. The log cabin quilt was said to have been an indication of a safe house, if there was a black square at the center. Underground Quilt Codes Debunked! For them, the codes are poetry, healing, and, especially, a means of expressing history. The author presents these tellings as total fact. There is not one single scrap of objective evidence for the so-called "quilt code." All charitable donations are paid by GreaterGood.org to benefiting organizations as a grant. 4.5. Some historians float the issue that many of the quilt patterns cited as directives for enslaved peoples probably did not yet exist during the height of the Underground Railroad, between 1850 and 1860. Just as Negro Spirituals contained hidden messages or secret codes during the Civil War, there have been theories that special quilts were made as a map to guide slaves to the Underground Railroad and freedom. Electric Quilt B8LESSON Lessons for... $28.95 $26.99 Details Quantity of items 141. Such is the case with Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea, who believe the spirits of their dead take up in particular animals, namely pigs and birds. Hope for Today. Based on surveys of quilts made during these years, the evidence for some of these patterns just isn’t there, breaking the spell of this captivating story. 5 uses today. Prior to 1999, the codes were unheard of even to the African American quilting community. Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on the Underground Railroad? She was previously the director of publishing for Cfile Foundation, where she wrote, edited, and published extensively on the topic of contemporary and historic ceramic arts. “Almost every February, stories appear in papers across the country,” MacDowell explains, referencing African American History Month. Nowadays, some African American women make coded quilts for their daughters and granddaughters, and that will keep happening. Go onto Pinterest and enter in the search bar “Underground Railroad Activities Kids” and I guarantee in the first 10 pins that pop up, at least 3 will be about Freedom Quilts or Quilt Codes. None of these institutions questioned the veracity of Tobin and Dobard’s story; instead, they published book reviews as human-interest pieces, calling it “captivating” and “fascinating,” and the public lapped it up like hard fact. Fact Sheet written by Barbara Brackman, author of Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts & Slavery 2006 . Additionally, many of the patterns and songs highlighted in this section have been shown to originate after the time of the Underground Railroad. In 1993, historian Jacqueline Tobin met African American quilter Ozella Williams amid piles of beautiful handmade quil BUY NOW. “You really get a sense of enslaved people there,” she says. MacDowell’s fellow quilt-scholars posited the subject of her whiteness. Though not all of her quilts are coded, Tindall is a believer and defender of the codes. All rights reserved. Join our mailing list and help us with a tax-deductible donation today. 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. Other patterns that have been included in the quilt code are the wagon wheel, drunkard’s path, and tumbling blocks. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Many slaves were illiterate. Sale • Green Fairy Quilts. I asked Tindall what the Flying Geese the Johnson family who protected them, that presence the... There, ” 2008, cotton, 88 x 70 ” they ate Underground Railroad daughters granddaughters. Please use your favorite search engine and enter `` Barbara Brackman, author of Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling History. 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