Warriors B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Q&A | May 20, 2015

    Michael Perry: IMG Powell's Q&A: Michael Perry

    Describe your latest book. On Christmas Eve itself, the bachelor Harley Jackson stepped into his barn and beheld there illuminated in the straw a... Continue »
    1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      The Jesus Cow

      Michael Perry 9780062289919

Qualifying orders ship free.
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Local Warehouse Crafts- Quilting

More copies of this ISBN

Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad


Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"There are five square knots on the quilt every two inches apart. They escaped on the fifth knot on the tenth pattern and went to Ontario, Canada. The monkey wrench turns the wagon wheel toward Canada on a bear's paw trail to the crossroads--"

And so begins the fascinating story that was passed down from generation to generation in the family of Ozella McDaniel Williams. But what appears to be a simple story that was handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter is actually much, much more than that. In fact, it is a coded message steeped in African textile traditions that provides a link between slave-made quilts and the Underground Railroad.

In 1993, author Jacqueline Tobin visited the Old Market Building in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina, where local craftspeople sell their wares. Amid piles of beautiful handmade quilts, Tobin met African American quilter Ozella Williams and the two struck up a conversation. With the admonition to "write this down," Williams began to tell a fascinating story that had been handed down from her mother and grandmother before her.

As Tobin sat in rapt attention, Williams began to describe how slaves made coded quilts and then used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad. But just as quickly as she started, Williams stopped, informing Tobin that she would learn the rest when she was "ready."

During the three years it took for Williams's narrative to unfold--and as the friendship and trust between the two women grew--Tobin enlisted Raymond Dobard, Ph.D., an art history professor and well-known African American quilter, to help provide the historical context behind what Williams was describing.

Now, based on Williams's story and their own research, Tobin and Dobard, in what they call "Ozella's Underground Railroad Quilt Code," offer proof that some slaves were involved in a sophisticated network that melded African textile traditions with American quilt practices and created a potent result: African American quilts with patterns that conveyed messages that were, in fact, essential tools for escape along the Underground Railroad.


Includes bibliographical references (p. [193]-208).

About the Author

Jacqueline Tobin is the author of The Tao Women, and is also a teacher, collector, and writer of women's stories. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

Raymond Dobard, Ph.D., is an art history professor at Howard University and a nationally known African American quilter. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad
Benberry, Cuesta Ray
Dobard, Raymond G.
Benberry, Cuesta Ray
Doubleday Books
New York, N.Y. :
African American Studies - History
Fugitive slaves
Quilts & Quilting
United States - 19th Century
Underground railroad
Ciphers -- History -- 19th century.
African American quilts
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references p. 193-208.
Publication Date:
January 1999
9.57x6.57x.97 in. 1.10 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Barbara Johannah's crystal piecing Used Trade Paper $5.95
  2. African American Quiltmaking in Michigan New Hardcover $40.50
  3. A People and Their Quilts Used Trade Paper $11.95
  4. Signs & Symbols: African Images in... New Trade Paper $27.25
  5. Handmade tiles :designing, making,... Used Hardcover $8.50
  6. Threadplay with Libby Lehman:... Used Trade Paper $14.95

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Quilting

Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385491372 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.