Should we be concerned with hard evidence the Kaluli can provide for these deep-rooted belief systems? “There will always be people who believe,” she concedes. 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. 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. Free Shipping+Easy returns. I was disappointed by her answer because I didn’t understand. “I simply ask them, ‘Do you think it’s possible?’ Nonverbal communication, symbols, and secrets are all forms of communication.”. Product Details. 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. 2. 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. Most people use blankets, and aren’t aware that quilts need a little more TLC, especially when it comes to washing them. Free Shipping+Easy returns. details. “I walked around where they slept, where they ate. They don’t have to do anything except believe. “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. These Americans migrated to the Midwest from the rural South saying Godspeed! 10% Off Your Next Order Over $30. Via/ Wiki Commons. We know them today as the designs that make antique quilts so special and unique. Now most experts question whether this actually happened. Sharon Tindall, “Colorful Underground Railroad Sampler,” 2008, cotton, 88 x 70”. Photo courtesy of Sharon Tindall. The folklore of certain quilts being used as symbols has been presumed true by many, with books Fact Sheet written by Barbara Brackman, author of Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts & Slavery 2006 . Folklife is a digital magazine of music, food, craft, and culture. 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. They carried with them quilts and the stories of an enslaved South. 8 uses today. MacDowell’s team recorded almost fifty interviews. Built in 1768 in the heart of Germantown, Johnson House’s woodwork, flooring, and glass are all original to the house. 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. Maybe the protocols for experiences of belief versus fact are just different. “Almost every February, stories appear in papers across the country,” MacDowell explains, referencing African American History Month. But, there is little hard evidence that these quilt symbols were used in this way. A video database of quilt blocks! At its center, a quilt is an assemblage of historical and creative cues in the form of fabrics, shapes, symbols, textures and colors. 274 likes. ©2021 Great Life Publishing and GreaterGood. Electric Quilt Company EQ8 Block... $26.99 Details Quantity of items 44. Home > Essays > Quilts Quilt Codes and the Underground Railroad. 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. Additionally, many of the patterns and songs highlighted in this section have been shown to originate after the time of the Underground Railroad. 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. 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. Here are five of the most common myths debunked. “One woman who was originally from South Carolina but lived in Detroit said she learned quilting as a child in South Carolina. The author presents these tellings as total fact. They matter because we believe them, so, naturally, and sometimes quickly, they become some of the disparate pieces of the systems that define us. Code • Home Sew. Underground Quilt Codes Debunked! We delve into the complex lives of individuals and communities to find what inspires and motivates people as they respond to animating questions at the center of contemporary life. The example of feathering shown above, is another Heirloom quilting example. Each pattern has specific meanings. Our conversation stretched to weeks as I sought more detailed information about how they were used. 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. 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. The log cabin quilt was said to have been an indication of a safe house, if there was a black square at the center. Sharon Tindall uses a historical pattern made up of triangles and rectangles called Flying Geese. 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. 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? According to legend, a safe house along the Underground Railroad was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. Details: Tuesday, October 20, 2009, at 7 P.M. Los Angeles Civil War Round Table presents "The Knights of the Golden Circle" By our Favorite, Mr. Ira Fistell. To define “fact” is no easy undertaking. Please use your favorite search engine and enter "Barbara Brackman quilt code FAQs" to get historical correct information. 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. “If you’re wondering about our irritation, I think it’s more frustrating that the codes keep getting presented as fact.”. The Painstaking Process of Making a Persian Rug, Find Out What Makes Stradivarius Instruments So Unique. 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. Well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers, ran it. They jumped to conclusions without documentation.”. The small piecing you tackled in Week 4 really The Lasting Legacy of Suffragists at the Lorton Women’s Workhouse>, D.C.’s Slave Trade Ended Here, Next Door to the Smithsonian>, Train Tracks: A Transcontinental Railroad Playlist>, The Folkloric Roots of the QAnon Conspiracy, Kulning: The Swedish Herding Calls of the North, A Choral Reckoning with the Imperfect History of the United States, Memories of a Young Armenian Film Director, Ashley Minner, Reclaiming Space for the Lumbee Indians of Baltimore. “If people’s lives are at stake, then it stands to reason that there would be no trace of the quilts,” Atlanta-based quilt scholar Mary Twining-Baird argues. She recently gave a lecture about them to a full room in Johnson House. Quilting Coupon & Promo Codes. Quilts were often made to commemorate important family events such as marriage, a birth, or moving to a new place. Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more. The slaves, the Johnson family who protected them, that presence was the colors in the sky of the quilt. 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. The easiest way to design fusible applique quilts. BUY NOW. For Tindall, the quilts become vehicles for the voices and footprints of people running for their lives. Sale • Green Fairy Quilts. Prior to 1999, the codes were unheard of even to the African American quilting community. See more ideas about qr code, quilts, coding. I have half a dozen reputable web sites that say such codes are a myth. 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. Civil War Preservation News Roundup I'm in the middle of a debate about the codes that people may have stitched into quilts to aid slaves escaping to freedom along the underground railroad. “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.”. “The orange is life, or light,” she explains, pointing at the glowing horizon line on her quilt, The Johnson House. Some of the folklore has some inexplicable discrepancies like the bears paw pattern. Books that emphasize quilt use. 4.5. “The risk is that it is not a true story,” MacDowell says. 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. For Tindall, a quilt can be like a prayer. Finally enslaved peoples were free to roam without running. Heirloom quilting, being on the highest end monetarily, is for the pieced top that will be entered into competition and/or used as a focal piece in the decoration of your home. Can any of you give me a credible web site ( with an .edu domain, if possible) that SUPPORTS the story? For example, The Double Wedding Ring, Sunbonnet Sue and most of the other quilt patterns supposedly used as code did not exist before the Civil War. It is the kind of quilting that will enhance and embrace the pieced composition. 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. Stories, recipes, personal experiences, and all the things that were whispered to us when we were young often outweigh scientific fact. Therefore, they created quilts to send messages for helping to inform other slaves to escape safely to Canada. But, would hanging a quilt out on the line been the most inconspicuous way to do achieve this? Helping more people find their creativity! 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. Code • Keepsake Quilting. A hot topic in Black History is the story of quilts and the Underground Railroad. The only paper published in a refereed scientific journal that claims to find evidence for the reality of the Bible Codes is the paper Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis, by Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg (WRR), Statistical Science, Vol. Join our mailing list and help us with a tax-deductible donation today. Was her whiteness a factor in not hearing that story? 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 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. 4.3. If you missed those quilty tips, you can find them here. Via/ Wiki Commons. 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. The symbols used in quilt making often have a complicated or unknown history. Drunkard’s Path = Zig-zag as you go along in case you are being stalked by hounds, Double Wedding Ring =Now it is safe to remove your chains and shackles. You feel their presence. Not dates, examples, nor firsthand accounts. Log cabin quilt in red, green, and black wool, circa 1850. The Quilt Code. 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. Filter 273 Offers. In 1993, historian Jacqueline Tobin met African American quilter Ozella Williams amid piles of beautiful handmade quil I didn't know anything about quilts. All charitable donations are paid by GreaterGood.org to benefiting organizations as a grant. When a person believes something, they have no need of proof. Last week we dove into small piecing and how to combat your sewing machine ‘eating’ your fabric! Owned and operated by Great Life Publishing, a GreaterGood company. A Quilt Care card acts as a way of letting people know how to wash their quilt, a cute way to present the gift, AND a place to write a personalized message on the back. There are a wide-selection of patterns available for quilters of all ages. 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. Hope for Today. There is no historical evidence to indicate that slaves used quilts to communicate information along the Underground Railroad. Feel free to photocopy this sheet to help spread the truth about the myth. I want to believe it happened. Simply put, she has faith. If the sky wasn’t clear, look for or listen to the geese flying north in the spring.”. 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. 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. 1893 painting of what the Underground Railroad might have looked like. The fourth principle of our denomination is "A free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Either way, to follow this route would have taken much longer and been much less direct, leading to an increased chance of being caught. Our member, Dr. Joe Wagner, has sent us the following information debunking the Coded Quilts of the Underground Railroads. 3. 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. Someone else we recorded said that her family hid important papers in the binding of the quilt. The Underground Railroad operated throughout the South. For them, the codes are poetry, healing, and, especially, a means of expressing history. 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. Are these quilts harming anyone? 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