1851 Ellen Calder's Presentation Quilt

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania friends of Ellen Winebrenner Calder presented this quilt to her in 1851. It was a farewell present for Ellen, a young bride, who was accompanying her husband, Rev. James K. Calder to Fuh-Chua, China. They worked under difficult circumstances in China for two years as missionaries for the Methodist Episcopal Church before returning to the United States. Ellen Calder, born in 1824, died in 1858 at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. She is buried in the Harrisburg Cemetery.
This cotton quilt consists of 36 blocks appliquéd with a fleur-de-lis motif often used by religious groups for presentation pieces. In the center circle of each block is penned a name and on many the place and date as well. Also penned on the quilt are a few pertinent religious inscriptions such as:
"When on the bounding wave,
Or in a Heathen land,
May God in Mercy Save,
And guide you by the hand.
And when your labors cease,
And you no more must roam,
May you return in peace,
To your beloved home."
In the mid nineteenth century the album or autograph quilt was a popular token of affection, often presented to someone leaving the community for a long journey or a new home far away.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Calder, Ellen Winebrenner
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 86 in x 85 in; 218 cm x 216 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Laura Calder Stonebreaker
Additional Media

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