1825 - 1840 Susan Strong's "Great Seal" Quilt

An appliquéd and embroidered adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States centers this cotton quilt made by Susan Strong in the early second quarter of the nineteenth century. Susan probably made this quilt in Ohio, where her family moved prior to 1820. The Great Seal has been in use since 1782 to authenticate documents issued by the United States government. Adaptations of this patriotic motif, a bald eagle with its wings spread, have been used on many quilts.
In Susan’s adaptation, the eagle holds vines in its talons and beak instead of the arrows, olive branch, and banner with E Pluribus Unum that are found on the traditional motif. The thirteen appliquéd 8-pointed stars above the eagle represent the thirteen colonies. The center panel is framed by three borders, each 7½-inches wide. They are appliquéd with the same design of flowering vines growing from corner vases. Two fabrics, a white cotton and roller-printed discharge white on blue cotton, are used alternately for the appliqué and the background. The shield and details on the eagle’s head are embroidered with silk thread in chain and satin stitches. Quilting is 6 stitches to the inch, in various patterns. This patriotic quilt is an example of an important design motif used to decorate many objects during the early part of the nineteenth century.
Susan Strong was born on July 4, 1809, in Frederick County, Maryland. She is listed among the pioneers in Richland County, Ohio, those who lived in the county prior to 1820. Charles, George, and John Strong of Maryland are among the 1818 listing of property owners in Jefferson Township. Susan married William Bell (1805-1847) on December 6, 1831. William was the son of Robert Bell, an early developer (1814) of the town of Bellville, Ohio. They had six children, two boys and four girls (all of whom taught school). In 1840 they moved to Hancock County, but Susan returned to Bellville after the death of William in 1847. She did not remarry and later lived with her daughter, Sarah (Mrs. Charles H. Dewey), in Omaha, Nebraska. Susan died in 1875, at age 66.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Strong, Susan
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton, silk, linen (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 87 in x 75 in; 222 cm x 190 cm
place made
United States: Ohio
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Credit Line Restricted
Additional Media

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