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.
- Eliza Rosecrans Hussey personalized her pieced wool-and silk-star quilt with symbols of the Masonic Society. The embroidered motifs are interspersed between twenty-five blocks pieced in a variation of the “Feathered Star” pattern. Another silk quilt in the Collection was also made by Eliza, and was embroidered with symbols and inscriptions of the Odd Fellows. Edward Simmons Hussey, her husband, was an active member of both the Masons and the Odd Fellows.
- Eliza, born about 1817 in Pennsylvania, went with her family to Indiana as a young child. In the early 1830s she married Edward Simmons Hussey in Carlisle, Indiana. They lived in various Indiana towns while Edward worked as a merchant, hotel manager, book keeper, and express agent.
- By 1860 they had settled in Brazil, Indiana, where Eliza worked as a milliner. There they raised their family of ten children. Eliza, after some years as an invalid, died in 1880. Her carefully designed and crafted quilts are a reminder of the importance of benevolent societies such as the Masons and the Odd Fellows in the developing towns and cities in the Midwest in the first half of the nineteenth century.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Hussey, Eliza Rosenkrantz
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center