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When quiltmaker Ozella McDaniels told Jacqueline Tobin of the Underground Railroad Quilt Code, it sparked Tobin to place the tale within the history of the Underground Railroad. Hidden in Plain View documents Tobin and Raymond Dobard's journey of discovery, linking Ozella's stories to other forms of hidden communication from history books, codes, and songs. Each quilt, which could be laid out to air without arousing suspicion, gave slaves directions for their escape. Ozella tells Tobin how quilt patterns like the wagon wheel, log cabin, and shoofly signaled slaves how and when to prepare for their journey. Stitching and knots created maps, showing slaves the way to safety.
The authors construct history around Ozella's story, finding evidence in cultural artifacts like slave narratives, folk songs, spirituals, documented slave codes, and children's' stories. Tobin and Dobard write that "from the time of slavery until today, secrecy was one way the black community could protect itself. If the white man didn't know what was going on, he couldn't seek reprisals." Hidden in Plain View is a multilayered and unique piece of scholarship, oral history, and cultural exploration that reveals slaves as deliberate agents in their own quest for freedom even as it shows that history can sometimes be found where you least expect it. --Amy Wan
From the Forewords:
"Tobin and Dobard have taken quilt scholarship to another level. They have revealed that quilts are at once sources of pleasure, information, and meaning and are central to understanding the history of people of African ancestry in North America."
--Floyd Coleman, Ph.D.
"Jacqueline Tobin is to be applauded for being in the right place at the right time, and having enough faith to go back again and again to listen to the story of one family's effort to encode knowledge in their quilt tops. And one salutes her partnership with Raymond Dobard, whose knowledge of quilting technology is so outstanding. Their persistence--is vital to our understanding of African American culture and its myriad contributions to American life."
--Maude Southwell Wahlman, Ph.D., author of Signs and Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts
"By engaging in a vast amount of research, authors Tobin and Dobard have established a significant linkage between the Underground Railroad effort, escaping slaves, and the American patchwork quilt."
--Cuesta Benberry, author of Always There: The African American Presence in American Quilts
Bought this as a gift and the receiver loved the product, but I was personally disappointed that the information was presented as fact, and no mention was made of how heavily... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stephanie A MacKay
Hi everyone, I am sure that I have my facts correct only because I live In B.R. Ontario where we have our famous spot for one of the underground railroads. Read morePublished 20 months ago by J. Tschirhart
This book gives as much information about the Underground Railroad from the Southern States to Canada as possible. The detailed information is wonderful. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2013 by Pam
As a quilter, I was completely amazed on how they all began. My sister-in-law who loves to quilt as a past time was quite taken when I told her about this amazing book.Published on Dec 27 2012 by Ethel Jensson
I am interested in both quilts and the underground railroad. However, this book struck me as speculation and heresay rather than a well-researched record of historical fact. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2003 by E. Burton
If this book were a pile of gravel with a few gold nuggets included, the gravel would be plentiful, and the nuggets would be rare. Read morePublished on June 28 2003 by Peter L. Swinford
I recommend this book only if the reader understands it is complete fiction, being peddled as fact. I will not address the many historical inaccuracies that other reviewers have... Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2003
Hidden in Plain View should not be accepted as solid history. The book contains many errors of fact large and small. Read morePublished on March 25 2002 by Christopher Densmore