Posing with Patchwork: Quilts in Photographs, 1855-1945

Posing with Patchwork: Quilts in Photographs, 1855-1945

Posing with Patchwork

“Posing with Patchwork: Quilts in Photographs, 1855-1955” presents a group of antique and vintage photographs in which quilts are part of the scene. The quilts in these photographs are one element in a larger, human story; maybe it’s a story about family relationships, about remembering, about identity, about community. Sometimes we can pull the stories from the shadows by looking for clues: inscriptions on the photograph itself, elements of costume and fashion, or the way in which the quilt is used as a prop—from acting as a decorative backdrop to blanketing a deceased loved one.

These photographs range in age from the early years when photography was a complicated and specialized process for professionals, to the days when most families owned an easy-to-use camera.  But in all of them the photographer and the subjects chose to include a quilt—a decision that enhances our understanding of the image and illustrates the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The photographs in this exhibition come from the collection of Janet Finley.

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About the Guest Curator

About the Guest Curator
About the Guest Curator

Throughout childhood and as an adult, Janet Finley has always pursued photography as a serious hobby. Her collection of photographs including quilts began when, as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum (2000-2004), an intern showed her photographs of 1930s quiltmakers. Finley was immediately intrigued. The people in the photographs seemed to say to her, “Look at me and understand that I was a person in this time and place.” Her collection now numbers nearly 1,000 images, many of which are featured in her recent publication, Quilts in Everyday Life, 1855-1955: A 100-Year Photographic History.

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition

Whole Cloth made of printed patchwork—‘Aviary’ design (Cocheco Print Works #8896)
c. 1884
IQM, Given in memory of Sharon Lea Hicks Newman, 2005.048.0004

The quilt hanging behind the man and woman in these tintypes looks like a pieced quilt. Instead, it is likely made of printed patchwork, or what quiltmakers today call “cheater cloth.” Fabrics printed to look as though they were made using complex pieced, appliqued or embroidered techniques were popular throughout the last half of the nineteenth century. 

Can you spot anything in the quilt behind the man and the woman that might suggest it is not a pieced quilt?

If you look closely at the photographs (near the top of the man's head, for instance), it appears that there is at least one horizontal seam—this seam cuts off the points of the stars and misaligns them with the ones above them, something most skilled quiltmakers would never do in assembling their hand-pieced quilts. In addition, the fabrics are remarkably consistent from block to block, a consistency that, while not impossible, would be difficult to achieve with pieced fabrics.

The quilt on display to the left is made from three strips (two full-width; one narrow) of printed patchwork in a similar pattern to the one in the photographs. It features six-pointed stars separated by floral printed hexagons, and was produced in several different colorways by the Cocheco Print Works of Dover, New Hampshire in 1884.

Uncased tintype
c.1875-85
Photographer unknown
Original size: Sixth plate (2.625” x 3.25”)

The elderly couple appears innocent of any fashion pretensions, and both have expressions of a life of hard, sober work. Her right hand looks like it is clasping a book, most likely a Bible or hymnal. Her thin hair is unfashionably pulled back from the face. The loose fit on the elderly gentleman’s notched sack suit depicts an older jacket styles and has a worn look. The man’s white shirt goes collarless and is worn under his single breasted, shawl-less, three button vest. In this era, it was considered proper to wear your vest buttoned at all times.

Cabinet card
c.1898-99
Photographer: Unknown
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

Could this be a wedding picture as the couple are both wearing floral corsages? The bride poses with her right arm resting on the groom’s shoulder with a stiffness that suggests a slightly uncomfortable and unpracticed intimacy. The portrait was taken outdoors, and an Eight-Point Star quilt was tacked to a building’s side for a backdrop.

Because of its perched appearance, the turban-shaped hat the bride is wearing was sometimes called a “settin’ hen.” At the turn of the 20th century, women wore their hair very long. They then piled it atop their head in great mounds that provided a sturdy base for hats, which were secured to the head with long hatpins stuck through the hat and into the mound of hair.

Cabinet card
Dated 1904
Photographer: Unknown
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

A young lady, Dora Petty-Wood (1881-1943) of Scottsville, Kentucky, is having her full-length portrait taken by a photographer. Behind her is a scrappy pieced quilt sometimes called Spider Legs today, though what Dora would have called it is unknown. On October 2, 1904, at age 23, Dora married James Wood, a widower twenty-nine years her senior. A great-grandson of Dora believes this photograph was taken shortly after her wedding and that she is displaying her bridal gifts. Dora and James had a long and successful marriage, producing six children.

Focus on Fashion: 
Dora’s dress speaks of the 1890s. Skirts were made so plainly in this decade that all of the dressmaker’s ingenuity was focused on the bodice with frills, gathers, tucks, pleats and fancy collars, especially toward the latter half of the 1890s. Skirts were wide at the hem and smooth over the hips from which they flared dramatically in a tulip or bell shape.

Mounted photograph 
c.1910-15
Photographer: Joseph G. Morris
Original size: 4” x 6.25” on a 7” x 11” mount

Joseph G. Morris operated his photography studio at 125 Sixth Street in Pittsburgh beginning in the 1890s. His father, David W., was a photographer and Joseph’s son, Harry J., became a photographer’s apprentice at age 18. One of Morris' claims to fame is that in 1894 he photographed Theodore Dreiser, the noted American novelist who wrote Sister Carrie in 1900 and an American Tragedy in 1925.

Tobacco premium quilt
c. 1915-1925
Possibly made in North Carolina
IQM, Ardis and Robert James Collection, 1997.007.0902

Three siblings pose outdoors for their portrait taken by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, photographer, Joseph G. Morris. The baby is covered by a quilt made from especially large flannel tobacco premiums, many of which feature an American flag. Like the flags in the photo, the American flags on this quilt have 48 stars, indicating they were printed after 1912, when New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th states. 

The American Tobacco Company’s James B. Duke is credited with introducing collectible cards as premiums to promote sales of cigarettes, a gimmick adopted by competing firms as well. Beginning in the 1890s, printed fabric premiums began to replace the cards, which by this time were waning in popularity.  Tobacco product manufacturers began to include cloth premiums with subject matter designed to appeal to women, who promptly incorporated them into quilts. 

Albumen print
c.1885-89
Photographer unknown
Original size: 4” x 5”

The photographer has posed the mother in the act of putting her little son, dressed in his white cotton nightshirt, to bed underneath a pieced “T” quilt. The little boy has an uneasy look on his face as he stares at the photographer. His apprehension might very well be justified, as the glare of a flash is reflected on the bed’s headboard. The earliest known flash was described in 1883 as consisting of a quantity of flash powder (magnesium and potassium chlorate) that was ignited by hand. Early flash photography was not synchronized to the camera shutter, as we know it today. This meant that one had to put a camera on a tripod, open the shutter, trigger the flash, and then close the shutter, a technique known as open flash. 

Cabinet card
c.1889-96
Photographer: R. H. Ripsom & Co., Fairmont, Nebraska
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

This charming cabinet card pictures a little girl with brush in hand about to comb her doll’s hair. Propped up on the ground and next to her straw hat is a doll-sized Crazy quilt, which appears to include velvet fabrics.

The photograph was taken in the portrait studio of F. H. Ripsom and Company in Fairmont, Nebraska. Notice the similarity between the fan decoration in the studio backdrop and the appliqued fan in the corner of the typical 19th-century Crazy quilt pictured here. The quilt was likely made in the 1890s but was supplemented with a lace border in the late twentieth century by Joan White, a collector and quiltmaker who enjoyed giving new life to old quilts that she found at antique stores and estate sales.

Seven Sisters
Circa 1850-1870
Possibly made in Indiana
IQM, Ardis and Robert James Collection, 1997.007.0844

The Seven Sister’s quilt block, as the block name is known by today’s quilters, predates the Civil War (1861-1865). Folklore has it that the seven stars in the block represented the first seven Southern States to secede from the United States before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President on March 4, 1861. 

Another legend is that the block’s seven stars reference the night sky, which recounted the Greek myth’s seven suicidal daughters of Atlas who reside in the constellation Taurus. The block is a difficult one to piece and presents a challenge to any quilter. The Seven Sisters quilt continued to be made throughout the nineteenth century and was published as “Seven Stars” (pattern #8) in the Ladies Art Company Catalog of 1898. 

Cabinet card
c.1900-03
Photographer unknown
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

Doc Grisham’s family came together for a family reunion portrait at their historic Dade County, Missouri, homestead. Dade County is located in the Southwest portion of the Missouri Ozarks. A Seven Sisters quilt can be seen to the right side of the group, likely made by one of the three adult women. 

Cabinet card
c.1885-86
Photographer: C. Harner, Boone, Iowa
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

C. Harner advertised as a photographer, located at 327 S. Benton Street, Boone, Iowa, from 1885-86. Printed in the cabinet card’s backmark, as shown, is the phrase “Quick’RN A Wink.” That alone would be reason for the well-dressed couple to choose Harner’s studio for their family portrait. The studio’s popular wicker carriage prop sports its shade umbrella in full open mode, and the obligatory Crazy quilt throw is fully displayed.

At the time of this photograph, Boone’s population was in the process of doubling. In the ten year period from 1880 to 1890, the Federal Census showed the population growing from 3,320 to 6,524 hardy souls. Boone was surrounded by coal seams, and once the railroad came in 1874, commercial coal mining thrived for the next 30 years.

Mounted photograph
c.1897-1900
Photographer unknown
Original size: 4” x 5.5” on a 5.5” x 8” mount

It took two Crazy quilts to cover the background for this outdoor family portrait. A large rock appears to be anchoring the bottom edge of the Crazy quilt on the right. 

The facial expressions on the family are all quite stern and serious as they stare into the camera’s lens. In addition, the adults are all wearing black, the Victorian color for mourning. Could they have experienced a recent death in the family? The older lady is holding a handkerchief. Perhaps she is grieving the recent loss of her husband.

Focus on Fashion:
Although black was a favorite fashion color during the late Victorian era, it was also the color for mourning clothes; however, as here, children were not expected to wear black during the mourning period. 

We know that the baby the mother is holding is a little boy because his part is on one side of his head and not in the middle. Side parts were generally given to boys and middle parts to girls. Both boy and girl infants wore the white cotton day dress we see on this little boy.

Appliqued Leaves (unknown pattern name)
c. 1850-1870 
IQM, Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection, 2008.040.0130

Carte de visite (“Visiting Card”)
c.1868-69
Photographer: P. S. Weaver, Hanover, Pennsylvania
Original size: 2.5” x 4”

Post mortem images are almost never made today; in fact, they are virtually taboo. However, during the 19th century, they were a treasured keepsake that memorialized a family member. With high infant mortality, post mortem photographs such as this were often the only image of the child that the family ever had.  They document a personal tragedy. 

Can you imagine going through the trauma of Civil War battles fought in your backyard and then having to deal with the death of a child shortly thereafter? This is exactly what happened to Dr. Horace Alleman and his wife, Rebecca, residing in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Of the Allemans’ ten children, only five survived to adulthood.

Little Anna Cornelia was born January 17, 1865. She lived 3 or 4 years before passing away sometime in 1868 or 1869. Anna rests peacefully under an appliquéd leaf quilt. The photograph was found in an album filled with children’s images from the Alleman family. The name “Father Alleman” is inscribed in pencil on this particular album page. 

On the carte de visite’s reverse, the photographer’s stamp reads: From P.S. Weaver’s Photograph Gallery, Baltimore Street, Hanover, Pennsylvania. Peter S. Weaver, son of Samuel Weaver, operated his studio in Hanover around 1862. He was a renowned photographer in the Gettysburg, Abbottstown, Hanover, and Baltimore area of Pennsylvania until 1910. His father, Samuel, was one of Gettysburg’s first photographers, operating his studio from 1852-1865. 

Cased ambrotype
Dated 1863
Photographer unknown
Original size: Sixth plate (2.625” x 3.25”)
What makes this photograph so special is that inside the case behind the photograph was a lock of hair along with a pencil written note stating: “Mamma’s little daughter. Stella Lorena Michael died Sept. 1st, 1863 Aged 1 year 2 mo & 5 days.” You can see upon close inspection that some of Stella’s hair has found its way onto the front of the image – trapped between the photo and the glass. Stella is lying in her cradle, her hand resting on her baby quilt, and looking as if taking her afternoon nap. Someone, presumably the photographer, hand tinted the image to give her cheeks a pink glow.

Post mortems of children are most commonly staged in their bed, on a parlor’s chaise lounge, or in the child’s wicker carriage. In this photo, the shape of the cradle’s back, and the decorative cut-out heart, are typical for the mid-nineteenth century.

Cased Melainotype tintype 
c.1856
Photographer unknown
Original size: Sixth plate (2.625” x 3.25”)

A young man, dressed in an ornate vest and cravat, is lying post mortem, covered with an Eight Pointed Star quilt; a second quilt, pieced in rectangles and half-square triangles, is seen beneath him. His chin whiskers are visible but there is no mustache, as was fashionable at this time. This is the oldest photograph featured in the exhibition. 

Turkey Tracks 
c. 1850-1870
IQM, Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection, 2008.040.0105

Albumen print 
c.1900
Photographer: Unknown
Original size: 5” x 7”

This fragile albumen print is a photograph of the Byrn family, taken in Missouri, that includes a family quilt as a backdrop. The quilt’s appliquéd pattern block is known as Turkey Tracks or Wandering Foot. In the back row, hanging from a cord, is a framed family genealogy containing portraits of Byrn family ancestors inserted into prepared ovals. The title “Family Record” is printed at the document’s top and an open book rests below, presumably for writing in additional family names. It was a common practice in the Victorian era to incorporate the memory of departed loved ones into a family photograph and the resulting images are sometimes called “remembrance photos.”

The patriarch of this family was Arthur Byrn (seated). His father, Daniel Joel Byrn, emigrated from Ireland to Holland to Halifax, Nova Scotia, finally settling in Hastings, Ontario. Later, after moving several more times, Arthur’s family ended up in far southeastern Missouri. There he made a home, raised his family, and died there on the family farm. 

The Byrn family’s long tradition of quilting continued well into the twentieth century. One descendent remembers quilting parties at his grandmother Byrn’s home in the early 1950s, when he was a young boy. He recalled, “Neighbor ladies would come over and sit around a quilting frame set-up in the living room. I was just old enough to be a pest. I thought it was great fun to crawl around under the quilt and pretend it was a tent.” 

Mounted photograph
c.1897-1900
Photographer unknown
Original size: 3.5” x 4.5” on a cut-down 4” x 6” mount

This poignant image of what appears to be a young woman pensively invoking the memory of her grandparents is an example of what some photo collectors call “remembrance photography.” The photographer deliberately chose a framed portrait of the girl’s grandfather (or other male ancestor) and an elegant quilt (quite possibly made by another ancestor) in order to recall memories of the dearly departed. 

The tulip-patterned quilt is likely done in red and green appliqué. Red and green appliqué quilts came into vogue about 1840, peaked around 1850, and declined after the Civil War although they continued to be made in smaller numbers into the twentieth century. 

Focus on Fashion: The young girl’s shoulder ruffles are set into seams for a decorative accent, as was common in dress styles for 1897-1900. She is wearing black stockings, probably held up by garter belts, black high topped ankle boots, and a high “officer’s collar,” a new fashion rage for the time.

Mounted photograph
c.1899-1905
Photographer unknown
Original size: 6” x 8” on a 10” x 12” mount

A large family of eight children and a mother, father, and grandfather pose before a pieced Union Square quilt. A framed portrait, most likely the deceased grandmother, is hung in front of the quilt. This photograph is an example of the so-called “remembrance photography” that Victorian-era Americans were so fond of staging. 

The photograph was taken outdoors: witness the wood siding and the porch’s rough plank flooring. This photograph is probably the work of a traveling photographer as it contains all the hallmarks: taken outdoors, a quilt backdrop provided by the family, and the family’s pose (some standing, some seated).

The first mail-order quilt pattern company in the United States, the Ladies Art Company, called this pattern #160 “Union.” The pattern was available for purchase sometime between 1889 and 1895. In later years, the block became known as Four Crowns, Union Block, and Union Square.

Log Cabin—Light and Dark setting, Crib quilt
c. 1890-1910 
IQM, 2005.007.0007

Barre, Vermont, photographer Fred W. Sherburne captured an elderly quiltmaker in the process of doing what she perhaps loved most—creating quilts. She appears to be working on Log Cabin blocks for a “potholder” quilt, a modern term for a quilt whip-stitched together from individually quilted and bound blocks. Recent research has shown that the “potholder” technique was popular in New England during the mid-nineteenth century. It is likely that this quiltmaker learned the “potholder” technique back in the 1860s or early 1870s and continued to enjoy doing it. 

Cabinet card 
c.1885-93
Photographer: Sherburne, Barre, Vermont
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

Barre, Vermont, photographer Fred W. Sherburne captured an elderly quiltmaker in the process of doing what she perhaps loved most—creating quilts. She appears to be working on Log Cabin blocks for a “potholder” quilt, a modern term for a quilt whip-stitched together from individually quilted and bound blocks. Recent research has shown that the “potholder” technique was popular in New England during the mid-nineteenth century. It is likely that this quiltmaker learned the “potholder” technique back in the 1860s or early 1870s and continued to enjoy doing it. 

Focus on Fashion:
A white lace frill finishes the cuffs of the woman’s close fitting sleeves, and her bodice front is fastened with tiny close-set buttons, both a distinct fashion feature of the early 1880s. Her little black bonnet is neatly tied in a soft bow under her chin, and her skirt is comfortably gathered at the waist.

Cabinet card
dated 1892
Photographer: Carl J. Horner, Boston, Massachusetts
Original size: 4.25” x 6.5”

Lydia Clapp, a Boston matron, walked into the portrait studio at 48 Winter Street sometime in 1892 to have her portrait taken by Carl J. Horner, proprietor, who occupied this photography studio from 1890-1894. A pencil inscription on the cabinet card’s reverse indicates that Lydia Clapp was born in 1817, making her 75 years old at the time the photograph was taken.

Lydia chose to have her portrait taken doing something she wanted to be remembered for. She did not look directly into the camera’s lens, but preferred to be seen bent slightly forward, a satisfied, peaceful expression on her face, working on her Crazy quilt square. She used a thimble on her right middle finger, while her sewing basket was prominently placed on the table to her right. The overall effect is one of an industrious, serious seamstress.

Focus on Fashion:
Lydia is wearing a dark silk dress tastefully trimmed with braid in a decorative scroll pattern. She wears her hair simply; it is parted in the center, braided and coiled into a bun, and covered with a decorative crocheted fringe. A small pendant, possibly a watch, hangs at her bodice front from one of a series of small black buttons. The sleeve seam, set at the shoulder tip with no easing, let alone a small puff that would have been present by 1891, dates the dress to precisely 1890.

Mounted photograph 
c.1897-1903
Photographer unknown
Original size: 4” x 5” on a 5.5” x 6.5” mount

The pieced block, in an unidentified pattern, is a work in progress for this elderly lady. She is seated in her favorite rocker and chose to be photographed with her piecing project, no doubt reflective of her lifelong love for quiltmaking.

Poor lighting made interior photographs in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century difficult. The lighting in this photograph, taking advantage of a nearby window, highlights the elderly woman’s face. The abundant houseplants, so typical for Victorian homes, indicate that there is a window nearby. Houseplants were a relatively new concept. Before the 1830s, typical homes were too dark and cold for plants to thrive indoors. With the coming of the Victorian era, windows of better-quality glass were larger and less expensive to manufacture. Sunlight streamed in, warm stoves replaced fireplaces, and homes became more comfortable for people, pets, and plants. 

Ohio Star with Garden Maze setting
c. 1875
IQM, 1997.007.0493

The Ohio Star pattern is particularly dramatic when presented on a white background. The maker of this quilt added complexity by inserting the blue Ohio Star into a red Garden Maze setting.

Silver gelatin print, dated 1902
Photographer unknown
Original size: 2.25” x 3.5”

“Mary J. Bowen, Grandma Martha’s mom” is written on the reverse of this photograph of a Crazy quilt bearing a center block in which is appliquéd “Nancy Criffit, Age 70 yrs, Apr 5th 1902.” The photograph lends itself to speculation. One possibility is that Mary Bowen made the Crazy quilt for Nancy Criffit for her 70th birthday celebration. The woman in the picture, therefore, could be the quiltmaker, Mary J. Bowen, who is showing off her proud accomplishment before gifting the quilt to Nancy.

Medallion Quilt
Made by Bertha Neiden, Lincoln, Nebraska
1909-1914
International Quilt Study Center, Gift of Max Neiden and Sylvia Jacobs, 2008.017.0001

Bertha Neiden of Lincoln, Nebraska, made this 10,222-piece quilt between 1909 and 1914. Bertha was a seamstress at downtown Lincoln’s Miller and Paine department store, and the quilt’s wool fabrics may have been scraps from the custom clothing she sewed for the store. It also may have been from cloth she brought with her when she immigrated to the United States from Russia.

Photograph of Bertha Neiden, 1914
On loan from Max Neiden and Paula Hansen

The quilt won a purple ribbon at the Nebraska State Fair in 1914, where this photo of Bertha and her quilt was taken.

Bertha Neiden was born Bayla Schuchman in 1888 in a Jewish village called Gorodish, near Kiev in Russia. When she was 21 she immigrated to Montreal, Canada, with her father and sisters and shortly thereafter moved to Lincoln, where some cousins were already living. Bertha and her husband Louis raised their sons and daughter in Lincoln, and her children remember her teaching them the importance of quality clothing construction, telling them that “the inside should look as good as the outside.” Clearly, Bertha was a perfectionist when it came to sewing.

Triple Irish Chain 
c. 1860-1880
Possibly made by Mary Elizabeth McCauley, Towson, Maryland
IQM, Ardis and Robert James Collection, 1997.007.0839

Gelatin-silver print (c.1930-40) of a c.1902-05 photograph
Photographer: Unknown
Original size: 8” x 10”

Eight Cherokee Indian women are photographed seated around a Triple Irish Chain quilt, most likely made by the group. The photograph’s reverse has a hand-written note signed by Ada L. Chenworth, Muskogee, Oklahoma. She says, “These ladies used to meet at the church and sew. Sometimes they met at someone’s house. I have a quilt exactly like the one in this picture that my mother (Emma Redbird Smith) made.” Ada goes on to identify the ladies (left to right front row): Lizie Hogner, Mary Coon, Johanna Groundhog, Betsy Redbird, Sara Coon, Peggy Shell, Peggy Groundhog, and (back row seated left) Charlotte Fishinghawk Hogner and (back row seated right) Nellie Swimmer Hogner.

In 1902, the leaders of Indian Territory sought to become their own state to be named Sequoyah. They held a convention consisting of representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and Seminole tribes, known as the Five Civilized Tribes. The convention’s proposals were overwhelmingly endorsed by the residents of Indian Territory in a referendum election in 1905. However, the US government reacted coolly to the idea of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory becoming separate states. The United States government insisted on a single state, and thus Oklahoma became a state on November 6, 1907. Today, Oklahoma has the largest American-Indian population of any state – 8 percent of the state’s population. 

Mounted photograph, dated 1897
Photographer unknown
Original size: 5” x 7.75”

“Henry Happy Helpers” is written in cursive on this mounted photograph’s front. It was taken in Henry, Illinois, and the young ladies pictured were part of the Happy Helpers, a forerunner of today’s 4-H Clubs. 

On the card’s reverse is written: “October 7th, 1897. Presented by Mrs. A. H. Kunnear and Mrs. Mary Anderson” (the lady with the very tiny waist). The table is set for tea. One young lady has her doll in its doll carriage along with two doll chairs. The scene is staged as a quilt show, and each of the young ladies, or Happy Helpers, has the same Four Patch quilt on her lap. It is possible this photograph was staged to celebrate their finished quilting project.

Silver gelatin print c.1955
Photographer unknown
Original size: 8” x 10”

An Eight Pointed Star quilt is on the quilting frame for these six women, possibly a group of church ladies. The quilt is composed of multiple scrap fabrics containing typical 1950s prints. The ladies made an effort to combine contrasting prints so that most of the stars do show. A simple grid quilting pattern is being applied. 

Red Cross signature quilt
University Place (Lincoln), Nebraska
Circa 1916
IQM 2009.002.0001, gift of Mary Alice Jones

The Red Cross quilt on view here was made by the third grade Sunday School class of First Methodist Church, University Place (now part of Lincoln, Nebraska) in 1916 to raise funds for the Lincoln Chapter of the American Red Cross.  The teacher Edith Wing, helped her daughter Alice S. Wing with putting the project together.  Each child in the class was responsible for collecting nine signatures at 10 cents each and embroidering a block with those nine names and his/her name.  Two hundred forty names were collected for a total of $24.00. Mary Alice Jones, historian for the Lincoln Chapter of the Red Cross, donated the quilt to the IQM.

Toned matte silver print c.1917-18
Photographer: Osgood, Galesburg, Illinois
Original size: 4” x 6”

A group of fourteen young volunteers pose with their two color quilt of alternating squares - most likely Turkey red and white. Their sharp uniforms are suggestive of the American Red Cross worker’s uniforms used during World War I. This group of young girls called themselves members of the Soldier’s Friends Club. The quilt was probably made to raise funds for the war effort. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, but armed forces were not fully engaged in France until the spring offensive of 1918.

The photographer, Osgood, operated Osgood Photo Supply Co., 330 East Main Street, Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, around 1917.

Mounted photograph, dated 1897
Photographer: J. W. Ard, Mulhall, Oklahoma
Original size: Mount cut down to 6” x 8”

J. W. Ard photographs the Epworth Junior League of Mulhall, Oklahoma, in front of five pieced quilts destined for the relief of the cyclone (tornado) victims of Chandler, Oklahoma. A terrific tornado struck the town of Chandler the evening of March 31, 1897, devastating the town of 1,500 inhabitants. In a matter of minutes, 45 of the town’s inhabitants were killed and more than 20 were injured, many fatally. Only two buildings were left standing; the remaining buildings were reported on fire with many of the injured burning to death. The few homes that were left were turned into hospitals. What was left standing of the leading hotel became a morgue. “Many citizens wander about the streets dazed by the calamity and almost on the verge of insanity at the loss of family and homes,” reported a Guthrie, Oklahoma, newspaper.

Works in the Exhibition

Gallery Photos

Gallery Photos
Gallery Photos
This exhibition was made possible through funding from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov for more information.
Event Date
Friday, March 1, 2013 to Saturday, November 30, 2013