But women like Anna Lopez, the education coordinator at the Plymouth Historical Museum, see no reason why the story of quilt codes can't be fact. "What I tell kids is, who writes history? Men do. Mostly white men. Then I ask, who made quilts? Women did, and a lot of black women made quilts and passed on their oral history. No one wrote down their history, so who knows?"
There is no doubt that it can be significantly more difficult to research women's history, especially black women's history, than the more traditional history we usually read. But this quote, from someone who has some influence on how children will interpret the history they see in the Plymouth Historical Museum, seems dangerously close to advocating making up, or at least not worrying about, the details of history. This does women's history and black history a huge disservice and teaches children that written records are the only reliable source of historical research.
If you're writing about history, you've got to be able to verify your stories to be credible, especially if your stories are far-fetched. The burden of proof is on the historians promoting the stories. I'll write more about the Underground Railroad quilts later on.