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.
- A quilted and stuffed block on this mid-nineteenth-century quilt bears the inscription “JANE BARR JULY 1849.” Although a gift to the Smithsonian from her niece, Nancy Angelina Ross of Mars, Pennsylvania, in 1954, little more is known about Jane or the significance of the date.
- The quilt is composed of 12-inch blocks appliquéd with crossed flowers. Red-, green- and yellow-ground roller-printed fabrics were used for the design. The pattern has characteristics of both “Meadow Daisy” and “Mexican Rose” motifs. Intervening white blocks are elaborately quilted in different geometric and floral motifs, 9 stitches per inch. A flowering vine delineates the border of this beautifully crafted quilt from Pennsylvania.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Barr, Jane
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center