Here is an interesting idea that is worth repeating and exploring. African-American quilters in the 1800s were actually creating and passing on a coded map of the paths to freedom for slaves escaping the South.
This is a hotly debated theory. A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer took up the issue. One point in the article is worth noting: these coded maps were handed down through families. Don't we all have some type of coded language that is familiar only to the family? I know in my family, we can all understand some hand signals from the railroad simply because Dad worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, and he taught us some of the hand signals.
Here is the article from the newspaper. You can decide for yourselves. Personally, I think this is a theory that holds some value.
Regardless of what you think, it is an idea worth considering.
I need to thank the NEHGS e-zine newsletter for bringing this article to my attention.