Lani's Reviews > Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad

Hidden in Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin
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Mar 02, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, crafty
Read from February 15 to 28, 2012

Picked this up in Yorktown, VA at the National Park Gift Shop and was excited about a book about the history of crafts in the Civil War. Several of my favorite subjects!

Unfortunately the book seemed to be based almost entirely on speculation by the author. I think it's entirely possible that quilts were used to communicate messages, but the 'code' described by Tobin seems completely imagined. Reading a few comments and other reviews seem to imply that people in the quilting community also find the claims to be unfounded and suspect.

It's a shame, I was looking forward to learning more about the African-American quilting tradition. Some of the patterns looked like quilts I had from my great-grandmother, and I was curious about how the patterns and techniques might have migrated from the Deep South to the West. Unfortunately the book is confusingly organized and never felt well-researched to me. I was left with a feeling that the authors pulled together lots of little facts and tried to tie them into a whole theory that just falls apart.
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