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.
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"National Quilt Collection - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- Charlotte Merritt Roe embroidered her name as well as the place (Virgil) and date (1806) on this pieced child’s quilt. Charlotte Merritt was born in 1774 in Rye, Westchester County, New York. She married John Elting Roe in 1796. In 1797 Charlotte and her husband settled in Virgil, New York. They stayed on to rear five children. This quilt, made for one of their children, was passed down through the family before being donated to the Museum in 1984.
- An anecdote in Stories of Cortland County by Bertha E. Blodgett, Cortland, New York, published in 1932, relates the arrival of Charlotte and John Roe in Virgil.
- “In the spring of 1797 John E. Roe . . . came up the river and prepared a log cabin in Virgil. He . . . peeled bark for a roof and agreed with a man to put it on . . . then went down the Tioughnioga to get his wife, bringing her in a sleigh from Oxford . . . .
- When they came to the river at a place called Messengerville, they saw Mr. Chaplin’s house on the opposite bank. It was winter and the river was high, and the canoe that had been used in crossing was carried away. Mr. Chaplin’s hog trough was secured, and Mrs. Roe was safely carried over on it . . . whole day was consumed in negotiating the road over the hill to Virgil . . . when they arrived they were surprised to find their house without a covering and the snow deep on the floor . . . .
- In after years, Mrs. Roe enjoyed telling the story of her experience . . . and she always ended by saying, ‘And what do you think! The horses were so hungry that they ate the seats out of my nice rush-bottomed chairs.”
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Roe, Charlotte
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center