There's a new, fictional book out about Underground Railroad quilts - Eliza's Rail Tale: The Underground Railroad and Code of Quilts by Judy Haslee Scott. I have NOT yet read this book - nor do I know if there are any nineteenth century or first-person references cited to clearly demonstrate that there were actually quilts used as map markers in the 1800s. From the press release about the book:
"Eliza was born in Missouri in 1894 to parents who had vivid memories of trying times endured under slavery. Her father was born into slavery in 1864 just prior to the end of the Civil War and the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery...Judy Haslee Scott is a seamstress and quilter. She is also a 30-year veteran of the Denver Public Schools. Eliza's Rail Tale: The Underground Railroad and Code of Quilts is 56 page picture book (nice cover design!) and retails for $31.99 (soft cover) from Amazon.com. Enjoy!
Many times, codes have saved lives because of the hidden messages they carry. Codes can come in many forms. In the days of slavery, they used a creative way of coding -- through quilts. In Eliza's Rail Tales, Eliza shares the stories of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and quilt patterns used to send secret messages to escaping slaves. The tales she tells have been passed down from the hearts of brave men and women, both black and white, whose spirit of freedom and justice caused them to help those following the North Star. Quilts held a significant role in these journeys.
Eliza's Rail Tales is a rich mixture of topics including history and quilting which are blended together with unexpected dashes of math, music, astronomy and dreams to create a colorful scrap quilt of history. It is a fascinating story of the Underground Railroad experience and the significance of quilt patterns that led slaves toward freedom during the dark days of slavery in the United States."