Clarrisa Champion Smith and Charity Vosburgh Mihan; Overshot coverlet; 1830-1840; Chatham, New York


This red-orange and white, overshot coverlet was woven with no borders and appears to be handwoven. The coverlet edges correspond with the end of a block which appears cut off on some sides. There is no fringe. One end had a rolled hemmed secured with a whip stitch, and the other end is frayed. The coverlet is structurally sound, being constructed of one length of fabric that has been cut in half and sewn together in middle with a center seam. There is some fading and wear that has accrued with time and use. The fading also suggests that the red-orange was obtained by using a natural red dye like madder. Chemical spectroscopy is needed to determine the dye definitively. One end of the coverlet is badly frayed as the securing rolled hem has come loose. There are some pulled yarns present and there are some old repairs. There was a note attached to the coverlet (now in the object file). It says: "Former owner of madder coverlet Mrs. Clarissa Champion Smith, Charity Vosburgh Milhan both of north Chatham (south of Albany) New York, wove it." 1830's or 40. Clarissa Champion was born October 11, 1799. She married Henry Nicholas Smith and died in 1886. Charity Ann Vosburgh was born c. 1805 and married Simon Milham. She died December 2, 1877. Both women were married to men who in the 1850 Federal Census recorded their occupations as “Farmer.” It would not have been unusual for the women of Chatham to pool resources, tools (looms and spinning wheels), raw materials (wool), and skills to create textiles in exchange for other goods and services. This economy is described and explained by Dr. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s books, The Age of Homespun. This block and table overshot pattern could easily have been woven on a four-harness loom.

Date Made: 19th centuryc. 1830-1840

Place Made: United States: New York, Chatham

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Textiles, Coverlets, Textiles


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Hope Anthony Levy

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1981.1020.05Accession Number: 1981.1020Catalog Number: 1981.1020.05

Object Name: Coverletcoverlet, overshotObject Type: coverlets

Physical Description: overshot (overall production method/technique)cotton, wool (overall material)madder red (overall color)patch or block and table variation (overall pattern)Measurements: overall: 92 in x 62 in; 233.68 cm x 157.48 cm


Record Id: nmah_214186

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