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.
- Embroidered in the lower left corner of this Brooklyn, New York, quilt is the quilter's name, "Susan Rogers," with the date "1867." Each of the twenty-five blocks has a different design and most of them contain an embroidered name or initials of a family member. The quilt was donated to the Museum by the wife of Susan Rogers's great-great-grandson.
- A tree filled with birds is the detailed design of the block containing Susan Rogers's name. On one of the branches there is a robin holding a worm in its beak, and a nest with three open-mouthed baby birds begging to be fed, while a seated cat waits patiently below. Other blocks contain appliquéd symbols of military service or membership in benevolent and fraternal organizations. Seven of the blocks contain tiny appliquéd United States flags as part of their patriotic designs. The majority of the blocks have floral motifs. The name "Nellie," Susan's thirteen-year-old granddaughter is embroidered under a basket of flowers. Another floral motif block has the initials "E L," probably for Emma Louise, Susan's ten-year-old granddaughter. A vase decorated with the image of a young boy, cut from printed cotton, and filled with flowers, has "Mother" embroidered underneath it.
- The focus of the album quilt, the center block, is a decorated tree. The presents or decorations include baskets of fruit and flowers, oranges, stockings, a cane, a candy cane, a ladder, parasols, an umbrella, a bottle of bitters, a fish, a bird, a mitten, a slipper, a picture of a dog in an oval frame, a cat on a mat, a pipe, a watch, a bird in a cage, and other gifts. A few are marked with names or initials. Under the fenced-in base of the tree, Susan embroidered "Merry Christmas." Susan Rogers's quilt is a charming example of the mid-nineteenth-century album quilt, each block unique and personalized.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Rogers, Susan
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center