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.
- Eliza Jane Baile lovingly stitched and inscribed this cotton album quilt top, finishing a few weeks after her marriage to Levi Manahan in 1851. Original patterns of wreaths of strawberries and flowers are framed by a strawberry vine along the quilt border. Three blocks incorporate inked inscriptions within scrolls. On one corner, one may read “E J Baile. Commenced June 1850” and on the opposite corner, “Finished October 30 185l.” A third scroll has the following sentiment carefully penned:
- “Sweett flowers bright as Indian Sky
- Yet mild as Beauty’s soft blue eye;
- Thy charms tho’ unassuming shed /
- A modest splendoure o’er the mead.”
- Great attention was given to the completion of this quilt. The sawteeth of the border are individually appliquéd and the strawberries stuffed. All of the motifs have outline quilting, with closely quilted background lines, 10 stitches to the inch. The overall design is further enhanced with embroidery and small details drawn in ink or watercolor.
- Eliza Jane Baile, the daughter of Abner Baile (1807-1894) and Frances Pole Baile (1813-1893) was born February 13, 1832, in Maryland. According to Eliza’s obituary, her mother was a descendent of Edward III, King of England. At age nineteen, Eliza married Levi Manahan ((1824-1893) on October 11, 1851. They reared eight children on a farm near Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland.
- Eliza was not only an accomplished quilter, she was also known as a folk artist. One of her oil paintings, Stone Chapel of the Methodist Church is at the Historical Society of Carroll County. Other paintings are owned and treasured by her descendents. An active member of the Stone Chapel United Methodist Church, Eliza also founded a Ladies Mite Society and served as president for 50 years. Mite Societies were voluntary organizations that were established in the nineteenth century to raise monies for mission work.
- Eliza died June 25, 1923, age 91, at her home in Westminster and is buried at the Stone Chapel Cemetery. As her obituary in the Daily News, Frederick, Maryland, notes, “Her Christian character endeared her to many friends. She was well known as an artist.” In 1954, Eliza’s youngest daughter, Addie, donated her mother’s quilt to the Smithsonian. Eliza's artistic abilities are well represented in the “Bride’s Quilt” she designed and made for her marriage.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Baile, Eliza Jane
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center