Angels are on the way ps pinned, The Underground Railroad: Many Paths to Freedom, The Underground Railroad: A Code of Secrecy, Part II, The Underground Railroad - A Road to Freedom. Craft and empowerment -The Underground Railroad Quilts. The log cabin quilt block pattern is one of the most well-known and popular quilt block patterns. The Underground Railroad Quilt Codes* ... pattern represented a different meaning. Excellent example of a bear claw or bear paw design. Some people believe that certain classic quilt blocks were used to send messages to slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Adorable example of a sailboat pattern quilt. How the Quilt Code of the Underground Railroad enabled the slaves to run away from slavery safely. First of all, what the heck are quilt codes? This is a quilt from early 1900's/ What a pretty pattern. Besides offering wonderful results as you place your blocks in your quilt, directional blocks are good choices to use as "connector blocks", used side by side with a different block which results in a secondary pattern emerging. Tools meant: something with which to build shelters, compasses for determining direction, or tools to serve as weapons for defending themselves. 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? Some people believe that certain classic quilt blocks were used to send messages to slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. How cute is this? In 1999, Jaqueline Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard published Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad , and the story cycloned through trusted centers of news and knowledge: the New York Times Book Review, NPR, and others. It got its name because the enslaved people who took it disappeared without a trace as if they were traveling underground. Today, we do this mainly by writing and talking. to segregation laws and seeking industry jobs during what is known as the Great Northern Migration, or the Black Migration. 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. 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 … They carried with them quilts and the stories of an enslaved South. Some do, and maybe it did, but others question the authenticity of such events. 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. “There will always be people who believe,” she concedes. 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. To define “fact” is no easy undertaking. Stories about the Civil War, Underground Railroad, and the quilts, both nonfiction and fiction, can be used in English classes to help students learn about this time period in American history. Just a few are Jacob's Ladder, Underground Railroad, Road to California, Off to San Francisco, Gone to Chicago, Stepping Stones and Trail of the Covered Wagon. Underground Railroad Free Quilt Block Pattern. It was traditional for slaves to leave handmade flower wreaths on the graves. 12. By life. Historians believe the first quilt the seamstress would display had a money wrench pattern. No one said anything about a code. Come and learn the meaning of the blocks said to have lent the slaves a helping hand to freedom. “If you’re wondering about our irritation, I think it’s more frustrating that the codes keep getting presented as fact.”. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century, and used by enslaved African-Americans to escape into free states and Canada. Tindall shared her beliefs on a trip to Liberia, a West African nation originally founded as a colony by the American Colonization Society to repatriate freed and free-born black people from America. These Americans migrated to the Midwest from the rural South saying Godspeed! Another factor of the quilts were the knots. I was disappointed by her answer because I didn’t understand. The North Star quilt block tells them to follow the North Star to safety. Quilt historians and Underground Railroad experts are not all in agreement with the quilt-code theory. The punishment for the black person was even worse...whipping, hanging, or burning. Beautiful example of a Wagon Wheel pattern quilt. 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. This Railroad quilt pattern is part of the popular underground railway quilts from the 19th century. 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. The log cabin quilt block is extra famous and extra traditional. Thanks for assembling this interesting post. That’s according to Marsha MacDowell, a quilt scholar and director of the Quilt Index, a massive online catalog of more than 90,000 quilts. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” 2014, orange silk, cotton batik, 54 x 60”, Sharon Tindall, “Follow the Drinking Gourd (Green),” 2019, green batik, printed cotton, 26.5 x 26.5”. 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. Were they literally supposed to follow the geese? Underground Railroad Symbols Andrew Jackson was the 7th American President who served in office from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837. Underground Railroad Quilt Patterns And Meanings. National Geographic and the Kennedy Center developed elementary school curricula that referenced the codes. I want to believe it happened. But there are many other ways people can communicate as well. Who has not heard of the Underground Railroad? Photo courtesy of Sharon Tindall. We thank you for your support! Just as today’s children know all the slang for video games, so the slave children knew all the names of quilt patterns. freedom using the Underground Railroad quilt code. Regardless of the disputed history, it has been twenty years now that Tindall and other quilters have been making coded quilts: glimmering, spiritually charged, stop-you-in-your-tracks, hanging textiles based in deeply believed and debated historical events. Tindall uses combinations of cottons, raw Dupioni silks, Swarovski crystals, natural fibers, Malian mud cloth, and even glitter to convey the spiritual, intangible components of her narrative compositions. Seldom do we find a quilt pattern with just one name. This Railroad quilt pattern is part of the popular underground railway quilts from the 19th century. Eleanor Burns shares a story passed down through families about a link between slave-made quilts and the Underground Railroad. Pattern Meaning African Quilts Barn Quilt Patterns Block Patterns Pattern Ideas Underground Railroad Teaching History Train Historia. If I slave was walking south no one would bother them. 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. Many have religious or Biblical names or are inspired by the sky, stars or heavens. The Underground Railroad has always been an interest. In art, students can make their own quilt patterns and describe the meaning behind their selections. This is a double monkey wrench quilt square pattern. For Tindall, a quilt can be like a prayer. “The orange is life, or light,” she explains, pointing at the glowing horizon line on her quilt, The Johnson House. It is believed that it might have been started by Quakers. They need to express their thoughts, dreams, and needs. Oral 19th-century slave narratives and testimonies of former slaves in the 1930s didn't contain any references to the quilt-code. Unfortunately, the quilt was lost in a flood and there are no pictures, which serves as logic for the general dearth of material evidence of quilts codes today. “I simply ask them, ‘Do you think it’s possible?’ Nonverbal communication, symbols, and secrets are all forms of communication.”. You have given us beautiful examples of the meanings of quilt designs...The Bow Tie is among my favorites. July 04, 2018 Post a comment Ppt Underground Railroad Quilt Blocks Powerpoint Underground Railroad Quilt Code Catbird Quilt Studio Old American Quilts Held A Secret Code That Led Thousands To Quilts … Literally, if anyone found out they could lose their lives.”. Some are political, patriotic or have historical significance. For Tindall, the quilts become vehicles for the voices and footprints of people running for their lives. I really like all the quilts, but I liked the rose wreath the best. “Almost every February, stories appear in papers across the country,” MacDowell explains, referencing African American History Month. Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. “I’m thankful I am able to create something of comfort.”. These quilts were said to impart important instructions and warnings to people traveling the Underground Railway. Stories, recipes, personal experiences, and all the things that were whispered to us when we were young often outweigh scientific fact. It can also represent that they need to seek shelter. One way that they can do this is by using pictures or symbols. Susan Hazelton (author) from Sunny Florida on November 27, 2018: SweetiePie I like them all in varying degrees. The quilts were placed one at a time on a fence as a means of nonverbal communication to alert escaping slaves. The nice thing about this time-honored quilt block is that it allows for tons of variation. “Follow the geese flying north. My family's roots have been in Massachusetts for many generations; they were originally Quakers, and a few participated in the Underground Railway to help runaway slaves. She recently gave a lecture about them to a full room in Johnson House. 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. Tindall hopes her handmade quilts hanging in the Johnson House, a crucial station on the Underground Railroad and now a National Historic Site in Philadelphia, embody the spirit of the house and the presence of those who passed through. "She showed a black and white picture of this pattern with the caption, "One of the most striking quilts having Biblical names." Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more. Susan Hazelton (author) from Sunny Florida on July 13, 2018: I am glad you enjoyed this article. Quilt Code #3: The Crossroads This pattern referred specifically to Cleveland, OH, which was an Underground Railroad hub that offered access to … The punishments were stiff for helping a slave escape. It could also mean that there were compartments built into the wagon to hide slaves. 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. Several years later, quilter Eleanor Burns and Sue Bouchard became fascinated with Williams’ story and created a sampler quilt based on the secret code, publishing the patterns in the book The Underground Railroad Sampler. Finally enslaved peoples were free to roam without running. The Underground Railroad was the secret path that enslaved people used to escape from their owners. “I have taken the gifts God has given me and I’m returning them back to Him through the quilt codes.”, Scholar Marilyn Motz has a definition for belief that seems to fit: “a process of knowing that is not subject to verification or measurement within the framework of a modern western scientific paradigm.”, As she points out, “the term belief actually calls into question its own validity.” And anyways, “we usually describe our own beliefs as knowledge.”. Underground railroad quilt meanings. “The risk is that it is not a true story,” MacDowell says. Sharon Tindall is a Virginia-based quilter, educator, and one in a tradition of contemporary quilters who design textile works inspired by this “quilt code.”, “When I’m creating a quilt, I’m focused on the purpose of the quilt,” she says. Slaves couldn't write or read, and that gave them a problem. But there are many other ways people can communicate as well. There she met weavers who were braiding in a code she herself is using. Join our mailing list and help us with a tax-deductible donation today. Sew a part of history. For the white people helping the slaves the punishment could be whipping, prison time, or hanging. They need to follow the trail of bear tracks to the food and water that has been left for them. Nowadays, some African American women make coded quilts for their daughters and granddaughters, and that will keep happening. Quilts had many layers of fabric. Simply put, she has faith. Their patterns and blocks were a code, providing direction, signifying safety, and issuing warnings (according to some historians). Underground Railroad/Jacob's Ladder Quilt Pattern. In many cases it indicated that this was a safe house. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, many Log Cabin quilts were made by the foundation method with a … If the sky wasn’t clear, look for or listen to the geese flying north in the spring.”. Wagon Wheel This was the second pattern to be … Not dates, examples, nor firsthand accounts. Language of the Railroad : Teacher Tips: The Language of Quilts Since the beginning of time, people have always needed to reach out to others. I can see the promise of such a system. Though not all of her quilts are coded, Tindall is a believer and defender of the codes. North was the direction of traffic on the Underground Railroad. Resembling a log cabin, these blocks are created with layer rectangles. 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. Underground Railroad was and how African slaves, known as fugitives, “rode” it to freedom. 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. Homepage Quilting History Quilt Patterns. Quilt showing many of the Underground Railroad Quilt squares. Bow Tie = Dress in disguise to appear of a higher status, Bear Paw = Follow an animal trail through the mountains to find water and food, Log Cabin = Seek shelter now, the people here are safe to speak with. Each quilt pattern had a different meaning. This pattern tells them to take a mountain trail out of view of the area. To make a quilt secure, people used one or two knots. 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. 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. Railroad workers Sharon Tindall, “Colorful Underground Railroad Sampler,” 2008, cotton, 88 x 70”. Ms. Freedom Quilts. While researching quilts in South Africa, she made the acquaintance of contemporary quilters who have—“lo and behold!”—caught wind of the book and started coding quilts of their own. These quilts were said to impart important instructions and warnings to people traveling the Underground Railway. “They could feel or sense light through their struggle of trying to get to freedom.”. Some believe that quilt patterns were also used as a form of secret code to help pass on directions or messages to escaping slaves. 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. Quilt making is a beautiful, traditional art form, and tells stories rich in history. Soon the story has lifeblood independent of its origins, and there’s no stopping it. Quilt showing many of the Underground Railroad Quilt squares. Two Quakers in particular were thought to have saved 3,000 slaves themselves. Dorothy Logan in front of her quilt, holding the book The Underground Railroad Sampler. This interesting quilt is made with the tumbling blocks pattern. 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. Someone else we recorded said that her family hid important papers in the binding of the quilt. This code tells the slaves to box up their belonging that they want to take with them on their trip on the Underground Railroad. The barn quilts are generally chosen from a family's own colorful quilt pattern that has been passed down through the years. The late Ms. Williams was an African American, a former school administrator and had a law degree from Howard University. Quilt blocks names have been derived from every aspect of society. Quilt Patterns Through Time. Come and learn the meaning of the blocks said to have lent the slaves a helping hand to freedom. Tobin and Dobard found some quilts that had unusual knot patterns. When I started finding the codes for quilt blocks I couldn't contain my excitement. The quilt maker had flexibility with this pattern as it could be used in any quilt. I asked Tindall what the Flying Geese quilt pattern meant and how it assisted runaways on the Underground Railroad. It also shows some signs that recommended slaves what to do. These symbols were placed onto quilts to help the slaves escape. Other patterns that have been included in the quilt code are the wagon wheel, drunkard’s path, and tumbling blocks. She especially knows that it’s out of her hands. Some of the most common were … 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. Between 1910 and 1920, the African American population of Detroit, Michigan, increased by more than 600 percent. So, how did the Underground Railroad begin? Feb 1, 2020 - People have long believed that the symbols used in quilts of the South during slavery were actually used as secret messages for slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. The log cabin quilt square represents the message that the person in that spot is safe to speak to. A common "x" mark on the quilts was believed to tell the slaves to dress up after escaping. This quilt means to follow the flying geese to safety. There is much written about the use of quilts during the Underground Railroad days. 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. Email powered by MailChimp (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use), Sharon Tindall, “The Johnson House,” 2019, cotton batik, Dupioni silk, tulle netting, Swarovski crystals, 40 x 28”, Sharon Tindall’s interpretation of the Flying Geese quilt pattern, 2019, Dupioni silk, cotton, 19 x 19”, In this quilt, Sharon Tindall combines two traditional block patterns: The North Star and Jacob’s Ladder. Their patterns and blocks were a code, providing direction, signifying safety, and issuing warnings (according to some historians). Quilt historians and Underground Railroad experts are not all in agreement with the quilt-code theory. 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. Were they supposed to wait until spring if the sky wasn’t clear? The Bow Tie block means to dress in disguise. Sew a part of history. And thank you for this interesting story about quilting...my sister is an avid quilter so will email this to her. North Star: A signal with two messages--one to prepare to escape and the other to follow the North Star to freedom in Canada. “I consider myself a Believer in Jesus Christ, woman of Faith, storyteller and a creator of quilts,” she wrote to me. When Marie Webster wrote the first known book on quilting in 1915 she referred to the Jacob's Ladder pattern in this way, "The bold and rather heavy design known as 'Jacobs Ladder' is a good example of a pieced quilt. Nimble fingers working in secret, armed with needle and thread, engaging with a visual language, doing their part for freedom. Quilts with patterns named wagon wheel tumbling blocks and bear s paw appear to. Often made from scraps of old dresses, burlap sacks, and dish cloths, it gives physical, even functional, form to a family or individual’s past and present. She encountered an old quilt that “was stitched like it had been sewn with a crowbar.”, “It was a map, of course! Quilts were often made to commemorate important family events such as marriage, a birth, or moving to a new place. One way that they can do this is by using pictures or symbols. Some of the most common patterns were “Monkey Wrench,” “Star,” “Crossroads” and “Wagon Wheel.” Quilts slung over a fence or windowsill, seemingly to air, passed on the necessary information to slaves. The names of the blocks used and the meanings associated with them are very interesting and pay homage to those involved in the Underground Railroad. As quilts hung out to … The Language of Quilts Since the beginning of time, people have always needed to reach out to others. The Rose Wreath quilt square sadly was informing the slaves that someone had died on the journey. They need to express their thoughts, dreams, and needs. It has been disputed by a number of historians. Whether or not the codes are “real,” Tobin and Dobard are responsible for a twenty-year tradition of craftsmanship that has cropped out of a confidence in what they wrote, in the codes. 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. The most famous telling of a quilt code says that indeed, quilts were a vital part of the Underground Railroad, and their history with it was unwritten until very recently. Eleanor Burns shares a story passed down through families about a link between slave-made quilts and the Underground Railroad. Our list Quilt Block Names and Meanings: The Ultimate Guides includes names, photos, descriptions, and even a little history for the most popular quilt blocks out there. It was an ingenious way to impart meanings important to this effort. Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 14, 2018: What an interesting article. Printable underground railroad quilt code game this idea has been stuck in my head for awhile ever since i heard about how quilts were used to communicate to runaway slaves on the underground railroad. To join them all together, people used to sew a string through all the layers and tie it off with knots. Sharon Tindall uses a historical pattern made up of triangles and rectangles called Flying Geese. Other patterns that have been included in the quilt code are the wagon wheel, drunkard’s path, and tumbling blocks. This is an alphabetical list of some of the names given to quilt blocks throughout history. Books that emphasize quilt use. When we see an uplifting story online, printed in Times New Roman, we tend to just accept it as truth. Well if not, a brief history is that it was not a train at all, but a secret network of people who assisted slaves during the 19th century to escape from the southern states, staying in secret and hidden "safe houses" on the way. 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. For something to qualify as a fact, it needs evidence. I love all the quilt square designs, especially the tumbling blocks, I am not sure why. She had retired and was selling quilts. This secret path was neither underground nor a railroad. Built in 1768 in the heart of Germantown, Johnson House’s woodwork, flooring, and glass are all original to the house. The Sailboat quilt block tells the slaves to take a sailboat across the Great Lakes to safety. I was amazed to find out the different codes used to help the slaves escape. Beautifully sewn vintage log cabin quilt. The zig-zaging walk and doubling back would help conceal the fact that the slave was trying to escape. The slaves, the Johnson family who protected them, that presence was the colors in the sky of the quilt. The slaves need to change clothes. Her mother taught her (as did her grandmother teach her mother) that you always hold a needle pointing in the direction of the North as you quilt it, because that is where opportunities are. Underground Railroad Quilt Block Meanings People have long believed that the symbols used in quilts of the South during slavery were actually used as secret messages for slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 18, 2019: This is a fascinating article about the underground railroad. Prior to 1999, the codes were unheard of even to the African American quilting community. 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. Of its origins, and archivist interning at the patterns or stitches for something to as. 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