The Underground Railroad Quilt Code – Fact or Fiction?

February 23
10:00 - 12:00 pm
The Underground Railroad Quilt Code – Fact or Fiction?

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code, fact or fiction, is there proof?

Sharon Tindall, an advocate and educator of African history expressed through quilt code, shares her passion to preserve African heritage. Ms. Tindall shared “before conducting research on the existence of the Underground Railroad quilt codes, I had to examine the authenticity of textile and quilt codes and how they delivered slaves into the Promised Land.” To authenticate African quilt code, she has written and been awarded grant funding to extend her research on quilt code messages in fabric and cotton’s history. Moreover, as a grant fund awardee, she has traveled extensively to research African coded messages in fabric and cotton’s history. It has been her dream to share the passion of quilt codes and inspire future generations to carry on the rich culture and legacy of African art and tradition.

In Ms. Tindall’s quilt theme “The Underground Railroad Quilt Code, fact or fiction, is there proof?,” she takes the participants through a journey of African ancestry by incorporating all senses of the history of cotton, spinning cotton into thread, weaving the thread into cloth, and creating a narrative about the revelation of quilt codes. The quilt codes are symbolic of hidden messages from which slaves could glean whether or not they were a taste away from freedom or danger was within the shadows.

Learn a little History of a plant known as “King Cotton” “White Gold” “Cash Crop.” Participants will see cotton in its natural form. You will understand how cotton is spun into thread and woven into cloth. Learn how King Cotton turned valuable human beings into valuable commodities.

When slaves were brought to this country, they brought with them knowledge of growing cotton and weaving the cotton into cloth. You will see some patterns/codes woven into cloth from West Africa.

This is a two-part event:

Part 1: the Talk will start at 10:00 AM and is free with no registration required.

Part 2: A hands-on quilting portion of the event will follow the talk. (Registration is full for Part 2.)

With over 30 years of quilting experience, Ms. Tindall received her professional textile training from Montclair State University in New Jersey. She is a sewing instructor for G Street Fabrics, which is one of the largest and oldest fabric stores in Maryland. She is also a quilt code and sewing instructor for Northern Virginia Community College and Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

With all her endeavors, Ms. Tindall is passionate about developing a platform that connects people toward cultural and social acceptance and unity. She is a true believer in women’s empowerment, promoting and celebrating diversity among everyone who is in her presence.  When she is not playing with her sewing machines, she enjoys spending time with her two sons, sharing a meal with her friends, and planning her next exotic travel destination.

This event is a partnership between The Johnson House and Awbury Arboretum.


This event is free and open to the public.

Location: the Cope House at Awbury Arboretum, 1 Awbury Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19138

This event is part of Awbury’s ongoing series celebrating Natural Fibers.

Click here for more information.

The From Cotton to Quilts exhibition will be on display in the Cope House Galleries during the month of February.

The quilting portion of the event is fully registered. Please join us for the lecture.