1905 Hulda and Ellen Larson's Pan-American Exposition Quilt

Hulda Larson and her daughter Ellen made this quilt to commemorate the 1901 Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo, N. Y. Souvenir stamped muslin squares were sold at the Exposition and later in stores to be embroidered and assembled for a quilt. Referred to as “penny squares” because they were often sold in packets of 50 for 50 cents, they became popular reminders of events and sights at the Exposition. Dated “May 1, 1905” this quilt incorporates many of those souvenir blocks.
Fifty-six 7 ½-inch white blocks were outline-embroidered in red, many depicting buildings of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Hulda and Ellen used over 30 of these motifs for their quilt. A block labeled, “Wm McKinley Our Martyred President,” was added to the original design after his assassination at the Exposition on September 6, 1901.
The blocks also included embroidered portraits of Mrs. McKinley, , President Theodore Roosevelt, his daughter, Alice, and Mrs. Roosevelt, Edith Caro, who married the widowed president in 1886.
In the center is the official logo of the Exposition. Blocks with an American eagle, flag, and shield add a patriotic element. Two blocks with buffalo motifs, “Put Me Off at Buffalo” and “I Am A,” and other animal and floral motif blocks were used to complete the quilt. When the fair ended its buildings were demolished, except for the New York State building that later became the Buffalo and Erie Canal Historical Society.
Using a grid system of the numbers 1 to 7 across the top and A thru G along the left side the following blocks were connected to the Pan-American Exposition. The inscriptions on each block are embroidered in red.
A2 – “Indian Congress and Village”; A5 – “Stadium”; A6 – “Ohio Building”
B1 – “Trained Wild Animals”; B2 – “Ethnology Building”; B6 – “Service Building”; B7 – “Infant Incubator”
C1 – “Fair Japan”; C3 – “Johnstown Flood”; C5 – “Darkness & Dawn - Fall of Babylon”; C7 – “Government Building”
D1 – “Agriculture Building”; D2 – “Mrs. McKinley”; D3 – “President Roosevelt”; D4 (seal) “Pan-American Exposition. 1901. Buffalo. N.Y. U.S.A.” D5 – “Mrs. Roosevelt”; D6 – “Wm. McKinley-Our Martyred President” D7 – “Alaskan Building”
E2 – “Electric Tower”; E3 – “New England Building”; E5 – “Old Plantation”; E6 – “Temple of Music Where President McKinley was shot”; E7 – “Cleopatra's Temple”
F1 – “Horticulture Building”; F2 – “Aerio Cycle”; F3 – “Machinery and Transportation Building”; F4 – “Panopticon”; F5 - “Phillipine Village”; F6 – “Triumphal Bridge”; F7 – “Beautiful Orient”
G2 – “Louisiana Purchase Building”; G3 – “House Upside Down”; G4 – “Hawaiian Village & Kileaua Volcano”; G5 – “A Trip to the Moon”; G6 – “Wisconsin Building”; G7 – “Darkest Africa”
This machine-quilted example of redwork has a 3-inch white ruffle, edged with red embroidery. It has a white cotton lining and cotton filling. The blocks are machine-joined, and the lining is machine-stitched. Stem and feather stitches were used for the embroidery.
Hulda Fredricka ParsDotter was born April 21, 1858, in Vimmerby, Sweden, and married Anders James Larson on June 23, 1877. In 1882 they came to Jamestown, N. Y. Their daughter Ellen Sophia Cecilia was born in Vimmerby, Sweden, on August 11, 1879. Other daughters born in the United States were Dora (about 1889), Della (about 1891) and Arlene (about 1896). Ellen married C. Emil Swanson in 1903 in Jamestown. Ellen died on January 1, 1925. Hulda died October 4, 1949, at the age of 91. Daughter Dora married Arthur Anderson and their daughter, Alberta,married Russell Weise. It was their daughter, Judith Anderson Weise, who donated her great-grandmother and great-aunt’s Pan-American Exposition Commemorative quilt to the Museum in 1985.
Currently not on view
date made
Larson, Hulda Fredricka
Larson, Ellen Sophia Cecilia
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 66 in x 59 in; 167 cm x 149 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Judith Anderson Weise
Expositions and Fairs
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Data Source
National Museum of American History


"The Wm McKinley block existed before his assassination. it exists on a 1899 quilt that showed all the presidents, only the text below the portrait changed on the stamped patterns after his death. "

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