National Quilt Collection
"Quilt": A cover or garment made by putting wool, cotton or other substance between two cloths and sewing them together. An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, LL.D., New York 1828.
The National Quilt Collection incorporates quilts from various ethnic groups and social classes, for quilts are not the domain of a specific race or class, but can be a part of anyone’s heritage and treasured as such. Whether of rich or humble fabrics, large in size or small, expertly crafted or not, well-worn or pristine, quilts in the National Quilt Collection provide a textile narrative that contributes to America’s complex and diverse history. The variety and scope of the collection provides a rich resource for researchers, artists, quilt-makers and others.
Part of the Division of Home and Community Life textiles collection, the National Quilt Collection had its beginnings in the 1890s. Three quilts were included in a larger collection of 18th- and 19th-century household and costume items donated by John Brenton Copp of Stonington, Connecticut. From this early beginning, the collection has grown to more than 500 quilts and quilt-related items, mainly of American origin, with examples from many states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most of the contributions have come to the Museum as gifts, and many of those are from the quilt-makers’ families. The collection illustrates needlework techniques, materials, fabric designs and processes, styles and patterns used for quilt-making in the past 250 years. The collection also documents the work of specific quilt-makers and commemorates events in American history.
Learn more about the quilt collection and step behind the scenes with a video tour.
"National Quilt Collection - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- Eve Van Cortlandt's fine white linen quilted counterpane is one of the earliest dated American quilts in existence. The date, "1760" and her initials, "E V C," are embroidered in blue silk cross-stitch on the quilt lining. Quilted with white linen thread, a delicate pattern of flowers, feathery stems, and low open baskets surround a central quatrefoil medallion. The design is set off by a background of quilted parallel lines just one-eighth inch apart.
- Eve was born on May 22, 1736, to Frederick Van Cortlandt and Francena Jay each from families of wealthy and prominent New York landowners. She made her quilt for her dower chest while living in the family home. In 1761, Eve married the Honorable Henry White, a businessman and a member of the King’s Council of the Royal Colony of New York. He became president of the New York Chamber of Commerce in 1772 and remained loyal to the King of England during the Revolution.
- When the British evacuated New York in 1783, Henry moved his family to England. Henry White died in London in 1786, and Eve returned to America as a widow, most likely to be near two of her children who lived in New York. Of their five children, two sons were in the British service and remained in London, as did one daughter. Eve died in 1836 at the age of one hundred, having witnessed a century of historic events. Since 1897, the family home in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx has been a museum.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Van Cortlandt, Eve
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center