While airing out the quilt from my last post, I was reminded of a very interesting piece of history. I have been reading a series of quilting novels by Jennifer Chiaverini. Her novel, "The Runaway Quilt" takes place in Pennyslvania during the pre-civil war time period. During this time, certain Abolitionists would offer their homes as stations in the Underground Railroad. The runaway slaves would receive signals directing them from one station to the next. A common signal was to hang a quilt on the clothes line indicating that the station was "open" to slaves. Typically each station would hang a quilt with a specific pattern, like the "log cabin" or "birds in the air". If one pattern was suspected by the slave catchers, the station would have to hang out a new pattern. Apparently there were many other signals along the Underground Railroad that were never discussed or even recorded, as the information could have brought harm to the runaways or those involved in harboring them.
As I hung up my bright quilt I thought of these amazing men and women (slaves and free) that risked their lives in so many ways during this fascinating period in our nation's history. I then had to laugh just a bit when I thought how well my quilt, with it's bright colors, would have been so easily noticed hanging out on the line.