The 50,000 objects in the textile collections fall into two main categories: raw fibers, yarns, and fabrics, and machines, tools, and other textile technology. Shawls, coverlets, samplers, laces, linens, synthetics, and other fabrics are part of the first group, along with the 400 quilts in the National Quilt Collection. Some of the Museum's most popular artifacts, such as the Star-Spangled Banner and the gowns of the first ladies, have an obvious textile connection.
The machinery and tools include spinning wheels, sewing machines, thimbles, needlework tools, looms, and an invention that changed the course of American agriculture and society. A model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, made by the inventor in the early 1800s, shows the workings of a machine that helped make cotton plantations profitable in the South and encouraged the spread of slavery.
"Textiles - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Charlotte Merritt Roe embroidered her name as well as the place (Virgil) and date (1806) on this pieced child’s quilt. Charlotte Merritt was born in 1774 in Rye, Westchester County, New York. She married John Elting Roe in 1796. In 1797 Charlotte and her husband settled in Virgil, New York. They stayed on to rear five children. This quilt, made for one of their children, was passed down through the family before being donated to the Museum in 1984.
- An anecdote in Stories of Cortland County by Bertha E. Blodgett, Cortland, New York, published in 1932, relates the arrival of Charlotte and John Roe in Virgil.
- “In the spring of 1797 John E. Roe . . . came up the river and prepared a log cabin in Virgil. He . . . peeled bark for a roof and agreed with a man to put it on . . . then went down the Tioughnioga to get his wife, bringing her in a sleigh from Oxford . . . .
- When they came to the river at a place called Messengerville, they saw Mr. Chaplin’s house on the opposite bank. It was winter and the river was high, and the canoe that had been used in crossing was carried away. Mr. Chaplin’s hog trough was secured, and Mrs. Roe was safely carried over on it . . . whole day was consumed in negotiating the road over the hill to Virgil . . . when they arrived they were surprised to find their house without a covering and the snow deep on the floor . . . .
- In after years, Mrs. Roe enjoyed telling the story of her experience . . . and she always ended by saying, ‘And what do you think! The horses were so hungry that they ate the seats out of my nice rush-bottomed chairs.”
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Roe, Charlotte
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center