When working at the shop on Sunday afternoon, I had the neatest visit from a couple from Indiana who are on a journey. Susie Hague is an elementary school teacher who received a grant to travel and learn more about the Underground Railroad in America. She and Kent happened upon our shop when on their way to Philly from DC.
Susie was pleased to find that we carried Civil War Reproduction fabrics, and proceeded to buy a good collection of them for an Underground Railroad quilt that she plans to make upon returning home from her journey. I then proceeded to ask her if she had read Barbara Brackman's book called Facts & Fabrications Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery. That started us talking.
I had a very enjoyable conversation with Susie about quilts in the Civil War and how they may or may not have played a role in the Underground Railroad (I happen to believe that lacking any tangible historic proof, the quilt code is a wonderful myth of hope). We also talked about Indiana (I have two bothers who live there), and I found out that she has started a blog for her trip. Check out Susie's blog here to follow her journey and read a little about the places they are visiting and the things she's discovering along the way.
We had done the Underground Railroad Quilt by Elanor Burns of Quilt in a Day as a block of the month at our shop a few years back, and even though I don't think the quilt code story is historically accurate (and I will document that on my quilt's label), I think the sampler quilt is attractive, so I had started making the blocks along with the group. These are some of my finished blocks (I have 11 of them done, I don't know why I didn't finish them ~ I'm almost there!). Talking with Susie inspired me to get my blocks back out and put them on my "Finish It Up Pile".
I think I'll follow Susie's journey and try to finish my quilt as she makes hers. No matter what you think about the legend of how quilts were used in respect to the Underground Railroad, we know that quilts were made to raise funds and awareness for the Abolitionist Movement by many brave women, and to commemorate things before, during, and after the Civil War. It's a fact that throughout history quilts were used as symbols of hope, safety and friendship...some things in history never change.
Enjoy the day!