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Hidden in Plain View Hardcover – Jan 19 1999

3.1 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (Jan. 19 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385491379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385491372
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,311,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

Review

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This story explains how escaping slaves used quilt designs, along with music and stories, as instructional devices for themselves and others on the Underground Railroad. The story began as a result of information received from an African American quilter named Ozella McDaniel Williams in South Carolina, which Ozella had received through her family. It tells how certain designs have certain meanings, telling the slaves when they should be ready to leave, what trails they were to take, and what they were ultimately to do once they were on free land. Interspersed throughout this new information, are references to old spirituals, groups, and individuals who helped the slaves escape to the North.
When I first began to read the book, I was actually quite interested, as I had never heard the story before. However, it became somewhat of a struggle to finish; at times the book seemed repetitive, or I got the feeling that the authors had to stretch their imaginations too much to get their desired end-result. Despite this change of heart, I did find the story quite enjoyable. The existence of such a code may be hard to swallow for historians and others in our society, but the possibility of its truth make the story worth reading.
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By A Customer on Jan. 14 2002
Format: Paperback
I wanted information on the quilts used in the underground railroad and this was the only book I could find. I had not planned to read the book just look for information on the quilt blocks used. I found the information so interesting that I read the whole book. I did not know about the influence of the African culture on the patterns used in the quilts the slaves made and used for the underground railroad. I felt the authors included other research that supported their views. So much of the slave culture was ignored and not recorded that the only information available is what has been passed down from the previous generations. Often our culture has looked down on that time frame in US history, and has resulted in the meanings of the quilts and patterns has been a subject that was not discussed or passed on. Now the people who would know the meanings are not here to tell us what they knew. Ozella McDaniel Williams does remember some and that information is share and interesting. I did find it frustrating that the color pictures did not have more illustrations and found it hard at time to figure out which picture they refered to in the text. A suggestion is to check it out from your library first and see if you want to buy a copy for your collection. It has an extensive Bibliography in the back of the book for further reference sources.
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Format: Paperback
I wanted information on the quilts used in the underground railroad and this was the only book I could find. I had not planned to read the book just look for information on the quilt blocks used. I found the information so interesting that I read the whole book. I did not know about the influence of the African culture on the patterns used in the quilts the slaves made and used for the underground railroad. I felt the authors included other research that supported their views. So much of the slave culture was ignored and not recorded that the only information available is what has been passed down from the previous generations. Often our culture has looked down on that time frame in US history, and has resulted in the meanings of the quilts and patterns has been a subject that was not discussed or passed on. Now the people who would know the meanings are not here to tell us what they knew. Ozella McDaniel Williams does remember some and that information is share and interesting. I did find it frustrating that the color pictures did not have more illustrations and found it hard at time to figure out which picture they refered to in the text. A suggestion is to check it out from your library first and see if you want to buy a copy for your collection. It has an extensive Bibliography in the back of the book for further reference sources.
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Format: Paperback
There are some books that are really problematic to review. This is one of them for me. On the positive side, my gut reaction is that there is a lot of truth to the authors' theories, and it presents a compelling way to look at quilts. I will think if the quilt patterns discussed here from a slightly different frame of reference after reading this, and that is, overall, a good thing. This is a also a book that could make history and textiles come alive for someone who is just becoming interested in the underground railroad, quilts, etc.
My concern here (and I will be echoing the comments of lots of others who have written reviews) is that the authors' have virtually no corroborative evidence to back up their theories, and this is a major flaw in a book that purports to be a scholarly text. I understand very well that the lack of evidence is probably unavoidable, given the fragility of textiles, particularly from the age and circumstances that these would be, and also given the whole premise of these quilts being "hidden in plain sight." I guess that I would wish that the authors would have framed their discussion with some a discussion of some of this so that their story does not appear to be quite so speculative.
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