Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project

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The African American Collection

Underground Railroad
Myla Perkins
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Cotton with polyester filling
66” x 90”
MSUM 7421.1
Photo by Mary Whalen, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

The original quilt was made by Myla Perkins and her sister Clara Clark, along with Elva Gamble, Gwen Spears, and another set of sisters, Chalesetta Buie and Elizabeth Jaggers, the original members of the Detroit group, The Quilting Six Plus. Jaggers said that when the group first got together in the late 1980s, family and freinds doubted that "six beautiful intelligent black women were getting together to quilt."

When The Quilting Six Plus held their own exhibit and displayed more than 70 quilts, visitors were impressed and many asked to join the group. Myla Perkins named her variation of the Jacob Ladder pattern the Underground Railroad quilt. Its name had nothing to do with the widely-circulated but currently unsubstantiated story that certain quilt patterns were used as signs for travelers on the Underground Railroad.

From, Great Lakes, Great Quilts

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