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Quilts On Display At West Virginia State Contain Secret Coded Messages
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Oct. 1, 2012 5:01 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 2, 2012 12:50 PM EDT
Institute , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Quilts are made with great skill and tedious workmanship. These quilts have something even more special sewn into the fabric – secret messages that were used to help guide people to freedom.
Howard Wilson and his daughter, Teresa Kemp, both West Virginia State graduates, are sharing five generations of family heirlooms with the Underground Railroad Secret Quilt Code Exhibit, on display at the Della Brown Taylor Art Gallery in the school’s Davis Fine Arts Building during homecoming celebrations, according to a news release from the university.
Not only are the quilts a treasured piece of history from the family of Wilson’s late wife, Serena, they are symbolic on a deeper level. The quilts are thought to depict secret messages that were intended for slaves escaping to freedom before and during the Civil War.
“People would design the quilts as coded messages to help the slaves who were escaping as part of the Underground Railroad,” said Wilson, referring to the network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves attempting to escape to free states.
Barbara Ladner, Dean for the College of Arts and Humanities, said this exhibit is a part of history which the community has the opportunity to check out. The quilts will be on display through Saturday.
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