Ideally, we would have several of the special slave-made quilts containing the patterns and the stitching mentioned in Ozella's story-code to analyze. Unfortunately, the fragile nature of textiles, the hard use to which these quilts were exposed, the lye soap washing, the possible taking along of quilt-maps on the arduous journey North, and the lapse of over a century have mitigated against the survival of many slave-made quilts. Compounding this dearth of extant quilts was the popular misconception that precise geometrically patterned quilts were not made by Blacks and were therefore dismissed during the cataloging of African American quilts. We have thus found ourselves obliged to reverse conventional procedures, having to present a theory before finding a wealth of tangible evidence. We do believe that with the publication of this book, however, many "hidden" African American quilts and perhaps even other Underground Railroad quilt codes will surface.


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August 2000