One way that they can do this is by using pictures or symbols. Known as the Freedom Quilt patterns, these quilts were displayed as signals to slaves that they should begin to pack for the journey (Wagon Wheel),dress up (Shoofly) and … These quilts were embedded with a kind of code, so that by reading the shapes and motifs sewn into the design, an enslaved person on the run could know the area’s immediate dangers or even where to head next. This quilt poster and guide is packed with ideas for helping children study the Underground Railroad by learning about the quilts—and the secret escape codes quilters stitched into … Literally, if anyone found out they could lose their lives.”. Susan Hazelton (author) from Sunny Florida on November 27, 2018: SweetiePie I like them all in varying degrees. The barn quilts are generally chosen from a family's own colorful quilt pattern that has been passed down through the years. She knows how rampant the story of quilt codes has become. Craft and empowerment -The Underground Railroad Quilts. Impressive example of a flying geese quilt. Some people believe that certain classic quilt blocks were used to send messages to slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Come and learn the meaning of the blocks said to have lent the slaves a helping hand to freedom. Pattern Meaning African Quilts Barn Quilt Patterns Block Patterns Pattern Ideas Underground Railroad Teaching History Train Historia. PUBLISHED February 5, 2004 Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. Beautifully sewn vintage log cabin quilt. Quilts allow Tindall to sustain a conversation about these men and women who were valiant, who fought slavery by taking the ultimate chance—running, and maybe even trusting the message on a blanket when everything was at stake—and encouraging others to do the same. Two Quakers in particular were thought to have saved 3,000 slaves themselves. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, many Log Cabin quilts were made by the foundation method with a … The scheme was assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees. Underground Railroad Quilt Codes Secret messages in the form of quilt patterns aided slaves escaping the bonds of captivity in the Southern states before and during the American Civil War. “I simply ask them, ‘Do you think it’s possible?’ Nonverbal communication, symbols, and secrets are all forms of communication.”. Are these quilts harming anyone? For them, the codes are poetry, healing, and, especially, a means of expressing history. While many have questioned this theory, it remains part of the folklore that surrounds the Underground Railroad, and quilt codes are incorporated into the Black History Cairn in Owen Sound. Susan Hazelton (author) from Sunny Florida on July 20, 2019: Thank you Pam Oglesby I am glad you enjoyed t. It combined two of my favorite interest- the Civil War and quilting. Just as today’s children know all the slang for video games, so the slave children knew all the names of quilt patterns. Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 12, 2018: First of all yes thank goodness for those who established the Underground railroad. Historians believe the first quilt the seamstress would display had a money wrench pattern. We tell unforgettable stories about people, ideas, and a wide array of arts and traditions that help us explore where we have come from and where we are going. This square mean that they need to walk a zig-zag path. Some are political, patriotic or have historical significance. She recently gave a lecture about them to a full room in Johnson House. This particular quilt square sends the message for the slaves to pack their wagon, or to prepare to leave on a wagon to begin their trip on the Underground Railroad to freedom. Underground Railroad Free Quilt Block Pattern. Eleanor Burns shares a story passed down through families about a link between slave-made quilts and the Underground Railroad. Folklife is a digital magazine of music, food, craft, and culture. MacDowell’s team recorded almost fifty interviews. She encountered an old quilt that “was stitched like it had been sewn with a crowbar.”, “It was a map, of course! It is believed that it might have been started by Quakers. This Railroad quilt pattern is part of the popular underground railway quilts from the 19th century. So it was with the underground railroad. When we see an uplifting story online, printed in Times New Roman, we tend to just accept it as truth. Quilts with patterns named wagon wheel tumbling blocks and bear s paw appear to. In recent years, one of the most powerful quilt myths to emerge has centered on the role quilts may have played in the Underground Railroad. Quilts had many layers of fabric. They jumped to conclusions without documentation.”. Anecdotal evidence, based on oral folklore, suggests that during the Civil War, a Log Cabin quilt with a black center hanging on a clothesline was meant to signal a stop for the Underground Railroad. As quilts hung out to … Learn how quilts were used for more than just keeping warm on cold nights. Explain that in this lesson, we will study an Underground Railroad quilt code that has been preserved through the oral tradition in one family's history. These quilts were said to impart important instructions and warnings to people traveling the Underground Railway. When Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard explored in their book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad (Random House) a family legend that said messages encoded in quilts helped slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad, they had no idea that their hypothesis would inspire rancor from scholars who declared it false. According to advocates of the quilt theory, ten quilt patterns were used to direct enslaved people to take particular actions. But there are many other ways people can communicate as well. Their patterns and blocks were a code, providing direction, signifying safety, and issuing warnings (according to some historians). Sharon Tindall, “Colorful Underground Railroad Sampler,” 2008, cotton, 88 x 70”. Wagon Wheel This was the second pattern to be … Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 13, 2018: There were many such signs and meanings behind these quilts which were used to point escaping slaves in the right direction towards safety. Were they literally supposed to follow the geese? How could this interpretation of a quilt block have directed slaves hundreds of miles along a cruel course, across canyons and rivers, all the way to Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Indiana? “The danger is that you start questioning people’s belief systems and how they get their information.”, “I’ve found some people have a hard time thinking or believing anything they cannot see or touch,” Tindall says. 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. “I walked around where they slept, where they ate. For Tindall, a quilt can be like a prayer. 21 Underground Railroad Railroad by Becky Brown Railroad can symbolize the end of the Underground Railroad, a change in the strategy of escape from slavery. “We had a whole battery of people who were doing those interviews in Michigan, both black and white, and no one heard that story.”. You have given us beautiful examples of the meanings of quilt designs...The Bow Tie is among my favorites. According to legend, a safe house along the Underground Railroad was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. You'll love this list of quilting types.

Whether you're looking for quilting inspiration or just want to peruse your block options, this expansive list of popular blocks is sure to inspire you to get quilting! ... QUILT PATTERNS & THEIR MEANINGS Monkey Wrench This meant the slaves were to gather all the tools they might need on the journey to freedom. When a person believes something, they have no need of proof. I am fascinated by the symbols and how they displayed them It was a labor of love. The Language of Quilts Since the beginning of time, people have always needed to reach out to others. To make a quilt secure, people used one or two knots. And thank you for this interesting story about quilting...my sister is an avid quilter so will email this to her. Back in the days when slavery was prevalent, and the Civil War was quickly approaching there were people who were bound and determined to help slaves reach their goal of freedom. When I started finding the codes for quilt blocks I couldn't contain my excitement. “The orange is life, or light,” she explains, pointing at the glowing horizon line on her quilt, The Johnson House. Freedom Quilts. Dorothy Logan in front of her quilt, holding the book The Underground Railroad Sampler. She had retired and was selling quilts. Marie Claire Bryant is a poet, storyteller, and archivist interning at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In every culture, there are beliefs, myths, urban legends, rumors, even conspiracy theories that rise to the status of sacred narrative whether or not they are “true.” In many cases of folklore, hard facts may not influence a belief. “Follow the geese flying north. Underground Railroad/Jacob's Ladder Quilt Pattern. The quilts were hung outside of homes along the Underground Railroad to let the slaves know what was safe or unsafe, and to communicate further instructions or directions. The Underground Railroad has always been an interest. Tobin and Dobard found some quilts that had unusual knot patterns. Come and learn the meaning of the blocks said to have lent the slaves a helping hand to freedom. Quilt Patterns Through Time. This is an alphabetical list of some of the names given to quilt blocks throughout history. Underground Railroad was and how African slaves, known as fugitives, “rode” it to freedom. Quilt historians and Underground Railroad experts are not all in agreement with the quilt-code theory. She felt a kind of kinship. Underground Railroad Symbols Andrew Jackson was the 7th American President who served in office from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837. So, how did the Underground Railroad begin? It could also be used as a compass where several patterns are used together. Centered on an empowering account of enslaved African Americans who ingeniously stitched codes into quilts to signal those seeking freedom in the North toward safe haven, this gratifying story has stirred controversy within the world of quilt scholarship. 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. Today, we do this mainly by writing and talking. If I slave was walking south no one would bother them. A common "x" mark on the quilts was believed to tell the slaves to dress up after escaping. In many cases it indicated that this was a safe house. It can also represent that they need to seek shelter. Thank Goodness for these people. Resembling a log cabin, these blocks are created with layer rectangles. There is much written about the use of quilts during the Underground Railroad days. The punishments were stiff for helping a slave escape. At its center, a quilt is an assemblage of historical and creative cues in the form of fabrics, shapes, symbols, textures and colors. Quilt blocks names have been derived from every aspect of society. So, if we truly believe something, as Tindall believes that enslaved people running north were guided by the Flying Geese pattern in quilts, we may have trouble seeing the difference between belief and fact. MacDowell’s fellow quilt-scholars posited the subject of her whiteness. “I’m thankful I am able to create something of comfort.”. She told Ms. Tobin that specific block patterns in quilts had coded meanings for the Underground Railroad, codes which had been handed down orally in her family for generations. Railroad workers While many have questioned this theory, it remains part of the folklore that surrounds the Underground Railroad, and quilt codes are incorporated into the Black History Cairn in … The Underground Railroad Quilt Codes* Secret messages in the form of quilt patterns helped enslaved people escape the bonds of captivity in the Southern states before and during the American Civil War. During the time of the underground railroad, safehouses had to be made so slaves can have a place to stay and get information to know when the "railroad" would come. This interesting quilt is made with the tumbling blocks pattern. One of the important events during his presidency was the emergence of the Underground Railroad and the use of secret signs and codes to help help people escape from slavery. Twining-Baird specializes in kente cloth quilts made on the Sea Island chain off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, but she maintains a firm stance on quilt codes. 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