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.
- This redwork embroidered counterpane was most likely made as a fund raiser for the Clarksville Reformed Church. It is dedicated to “Rev. Boyce Pastor. Peggy His wife, Rex Their dog.” According to further inscriptions on the quilt, the occasion was the “Clarksville Reformed Church Fair Dec. 8th 1922.”
- A twelve-petal daisy is the motif of the forty-eight blocks, the petals providing spaces for over 500 embroidered names. First, the names were written in pencil, and then embroidered with red cotton. In a few instances, a different name is embroidered over the original penciled name. One block utilized the spaces for advertising: “Priced / Lowest / The / Transportation / Economical / Motor Cars / Chevrolet / Wright / Gardner / Automobile / Equipped / Fully.” Presumably a small donation, maybe ten or twenty-five cents, assured one’s name embroidered on the counterpane. Further funds may have been secured by a raffle at the December fair. Or it may have been given to Pastor Boyce as a token of appreciation. Quilts or counterpanes such as this are still used, as they have been for more than 150 years, to raise funds for worthy causes.
- The Clarksville Reformed Church was established in 1853, when a building was erected to serve the congregation. Sadly, this church was destroyed by fire on a cold February Sunday in 1912. The congregation rallied to rebuild and less then a year later, in January 1913, they were able to hold services in a new church. Clarksville in the 1920s, when this counterpane was made, was a small village in Albany County, New York. Reverend Boyce was the pastor for the Clarksville Reformed Church from 1919 to 1926 and also the Reformed Church in Westerlo, New York. In the 1950s Clarksville was still a small village and it became increasingly difficult to support the church. Another church in Clarksville, the Methodist Episcopal Church, also faced similar problems, and the solution was to merge the two. By the mid-1960s, a new church was dedicated whose sign incorporates the two bells from the older churches, symbolizing the origins of the new Clarksville Community Church.
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- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center