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

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  529 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
In Hidden in Plain View, historian Jacqueline Tobin and scholar Raymond Dobard offer the first proof that certain quilt patterns, including a prominent one called the Charleston Code, were, in fact, essential tools for escape along the Underground Railroad.

In 1993, historian Jacqueline Tobin met African American quilter Ozella Williams amid piles of beautiful handmade quil
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 18th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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Eva Nickelson
Jan 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
Picked this up at the Baltimore Book Thing. I'm about a third of the way through, and thus far am frustrated with the way the authors seem to tease the reader with drip of information, but have yet to follow through with a well-laid out straightforward discussion.

I've also found that there's a lot of question regarding the accuracy of this book; the number of factual errors made by the authors are dismaying. See:

A critique of the book by Giles R. Wright, director of the Afro-American History Pro
Kathy  Petersen
In my work as a writer at the Missouri History Museum, I have to look at a lot of books (is this a cool job or what??). But merely seeking references and specific pieces of information, I seldom read one all the way through. I made an exception for Hidden in Plain View and was pleased that I did.

Anyway, this short story of the writer's education into the deeper meaning and hidden history of African American quilting and other codes is fascinating. The writers leave many open questions, understa
Aug 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-history
I was really disappointed with this book. I was expecting a scholarly work about a part of history that I'm interested in. I thought that a book written by TWO people with PhD behind their names would at least be organized and on point.

I was wrong.

The authors spend more time second-guessing themselves and possiting questions they are unable to answer instead of focusing on the information they are confident in sharing with their audience.

In the first section, they spend too much time downplaying
Mar 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm currently reading this for something I'm working on. However, it's amazing how so many people can actually believe this existed. It's also amazing how many read this book, and then still believe this can happen. With words of wisdom such as, "follow the bear tracks they will lead you to safety", or "head north" the author's seem to assume that slaves were completely lacking in any knowledge whatsoever. The fact that one of them, is in fact an African-American Fine Arts Professor at Howard Un ...more
Mar 08, 2010 added it
Unfortunately, books like this are written. I see now how myths and legends are passed down as truth, due to some tall tale being produced as fact. This book is fiction. Numerous historians, in many areas have debunked this book as a nice story, but nothing more. What really ignites my flame is that it is being taught in some schools as fact. If you are interested in what real scholars have to say about this there is more here..

It's unfortunate that an ama
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Mary by: library - "not new but worth a view"
Shelves: political, quilts
People have probably heard that quilts were part of helping slaves on the Underground Railroad. This book tries to substantiate that. It's hard to do, because the actual quilts that were used are probably fallen apart and thrown out by now, and because by nature the Underground Railroad was made up of secrets, so there's very few ways to substantiate secrets. But one of the authors speaks to a woman in Charleston, S. Carolina who has kept the verbal history, passed down from her mother and grand ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Hidden in Plain View is ultimately a book about a woman who meets a black quilter at a market in Charleston, SC and goes down multiple rabbit holes to break a secret code. The quilter, Ozella, draws in the author (Tobin) with an oral history of the meaning of quilt lore as used among slaves in the antebellum South. The bits of the book in between the first chapter and the epilogue are the authors' attempts to piece together what the quilting messages might mean and how they may have come about.

Susan Ferguson
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, history
When Jacqueline Tobin visited Charleston, SC, she met Ozella McDaniels Williams at the market. Ozella was selling quilts and began to talk to her about the use of quits and their secret language during slavery. Jacqueline was not paying much attention, but when she got home and began to think about it, she called her using the business card from the quilt she bought. Ozella told her she would get the story when Jacqueline was ready to hear it. So Jackqueline began doing research on slave quilts. ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Ok, I am redoing this review. There were things that disappointed me in this book. It seemed like there was a lot of conjecture. As I told a friend who asked me about the book it also reminded me of "Mutant Message Down Under" where some foreign white lady is given all the mystical secrets of aborigine society. I just wanted to ask, "What makes you so special that they pass this information to you but not their own children?" Because I felt not entirely able to back up my criticisms I didn't wan ...more
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