Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 36

may be surprised to find a Baltimore connection within their communication, since Tubman was illiterate and remained purposefully hidden while traveling through the city, and Roosevelt's and Hickok's professional and political lives were primarily found in other settings. Yet, when one looks beyond traditional timelines, primary records, city limits, and linear framework, a new map unfolds which charts the (un)written words of these historical women. This map acknowledges not only what is discovered when researching hidden communication within a city's marginalized communities, but also what is unable to be found. A new print of the city emerges where Tubman's unwritten communication—created out of a desire for freedom—gains the validity of preserved records, and Roosevelt's and Hickok's personal communication—created out of a desire for female intimacy—validates secondary non- public lives. Baltimore's status as a host of these hidden histories quic kly reveals the (un)written words that guided the city's residents and visitors as they navigated beneath, around, through, and above the geographical and societal boundaries of race and sexuality during their times. Enlarging Baltimore's literary and societal history to include both unwritten and written words reveals the provocative and neglected genre of hidden communication. Unwritten Words: Harriet Tubman The artifact most closely resembling written communication by Tubman found to date (and included in the Harriet Tubman Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture—scheduled to open in September 2016) is a hymnal, published in 1876, which has several Xs penciled on its songs. However, it must be noted that even the curators at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where the hymnal is housed, cannot determine that Tubman was the person who wrote the Xs in her hymnal (Serwer). 1 The lack of first-person records from Tubman, as well as by many early African Americans, has led to the repeated question: How does a city adequately honor an historic woman whose personal deeds were purposefully concealed from public view and whose words were only saved through second party recollections and scribing? Baltimore, as well as the rest of the country, has battled with this conundrum for years. Additionally, Tubman’s illiteracy 1 The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Harriet Tubman Collection was donated by “Charles L. Blockson, writer, historian, and former board member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania” (“Harriet Tubman Collection”). Blockson, who inherited the items from a deceased relative of Tubman's, is a “descendant of Jacob Blockson who escaped slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with Harriet Tubman.” (“Harriet Tubman Collection”). 31