Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories

Jennifer M. Swope
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, recently featured its superb collection of American bedcovers in an exhibition and accompanying book titled Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories. The exhibition was on view from October 10, 2021 through January 17, 2022, while the book, which was published by the MFA, is still available from the museum and booksellers across the country. The exhibition will travel to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where it will be on view from November 17, 2022 through March 15, 2023. This essay was written for Americana Insights by Jennifer M. Swope, David and Roberta Logie Associate Curator of Textile & Fashion Arts at the MFA and a co-curator and co-author of the exhibition and publication. We thank Jennifer for all the time and effort she put into sharing with us her deep knowledge of the collection and the men and women who made and used these textiles.

Acknowledging the stories of individuals and communities that have been marginalized, overlooked, or misunderstood is at the heart of Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories. Like the exhibition that is now closed, the publication features important American textiles from the MFA’s collection that span the late seventeenth century to the present day, exploring how these quilts and other bedcovers embody the past while remaining vibrant artforms. The inherently intimate nature of quilts and bedcovers and the strong visual qualities of these works of art invite readers and museum visitors to consider challenging episodes of our nation’s history and the many people and communities who have made America what it is today. Like the exhibition and the collection itself, Fabric of a Nation embraces both the private and public dimensions of American textiles, across the broad expanse of America’s history.

The story of American textiles begins not with white English settlers on the East coast but with early works from the Southwest and centers around an extraordinarily rare colcha or embroidered cover made in the late seventeenth century in a workshop outside of Mexico City in New Spain. (Fig. 1a) Fully covered in a type of long-arm cross stitch also found in contemporary Spanish samplers, repeated figures of lions with pomegranates, leaping stags, and dogs taken from European heraldry are combined with those of four young women shown in the dress of the period.1 (Fig. 1b) Recumbent lambs embroidered throughout the cover likely have Christian significance but also symbolize the sheep and other European domesticated animals that the Spanish brought to the Americas in the early sixteenth century.

Cover (Colcha)
Figure 1a. Cover (Colcha). Mexico, possibly Toluca, late 17th – early 18th century. Wool plain weave, embroidered with wool and cotton in long-arm cross, stem, and back stitches, 105 ½ x 73 ⅝ in. Denman Waldo Ross Collection, 96.109.
Cover (Colcha), detail
Figure 1b. Cover (Colcha), detail.

The red threads that cover most of the colcha are made from wool dyed with cochineal, a dye made from the larvae of the cochineal beetle that feed on prickly pear cactus. Cultivated on large plantations in the central Mexican region of Oaxaca, cochineal had been used by Indigenous people in Mesoamerica and the Andes for millennia before the arrival of the Spanish. Indigenous labor and knowledge was needed to produce this dye on a large scale in this region of Mexico, an industry that began in the sixteenth-century when the dye became a prized monopoly controlled by the Spanish crown and continued to the mid-nineteenth century, a few decades after Mexico’s independence.

An amalgam of European and Indigenous influences, other aspects of the colchas’s design reflect the pervasive presence of Asian export textiles and other decorative arts in this region of North America. The two white birds in the central field, embroidered between the pairs of lambs, resemble phoenixes found on silk embroidered textiles of the period, which were created in China for export to the Spanish-controlled Philippines. Galleons transported these and other luxury trade goods from Manila to Acapulco on the western coast of Mexico, where they were carried overland to Mexico City and then sent to Havana and eventually Seville from the eastern port of Veracruz. The vases with flowers facing inward from each corner, the scrolling vines interspersed with animal figures, and the overall composition of the outer border with blocked out sections of the inner field are also found on large-scale Asian textiles of the period, from embroidered hangings and covers to woven carpets.2

A century later and nearly 3,000 miles away, Eunice Williams Metcalf (1775–1844) of Lebanon, Connecticut created a bed rugg, most likely just before her marriage to Arunah Metcalf in 1794. (Fig. 2) Embroidered bed ruggs made in New England in the eighteenth century recalled highly prized woven European bed ruggs of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, which were woven in professional workshops using a complex loop pile structure. Bed ruggs of any manufacture appear in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American probate inventories much more frequently than quilts. The design of this example is like other bed ruggs embroidered in New London County, Connecticut during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. While made individually at home by sewing rows of running stitches in loops that were cut to create dense pile, their designs follow global patterns established centuries earlier, as seen in this example’s scrolling border with carnation blossoms in the lower corners, which are like the seventeenth-century colcha. Most likely a prized possession, Eunice Williams Metcalf and her new husband took the bed rugg with them when they and several extended family members moved to Cooperstown, New York.3

Bed Rugg
Figure 2. Bed Rugg. Attributed to Eunice Williams Metcalf (1775–1844), Lebanon, Connecticut, about 1793. Wool plain weave embroidered with wool, 97 x 85 ¼ in. Susan Cornelia Warren Fund, 1980.447.

A stamped bedcover owned by Nancy Corbly Clark (1800–1877) of Clermont County, Ohio was also made in a domestic setting. (Fig. 3) Very few stamped American coverlets survive, and most of these include fewer colors and were made a few decades earlier.4 The range of blue, red, green, yellow, and mauve stamped in floral motifs on the finely woven cotton and linen cloth bears resemblance to stenciled and painted textiles made by women at home and girls in female academies in the 1820s and 30s.5 Despite its rarity, a set of now-missing wooden stamps carved to print similar swags, medallions, leaves and blossoms was illustrated in the April 1928 issue of The Magazine Antiques.6 Combining commercially available pigments such as Prussian blue, red ocher, red lead, vermillion, and lead chromate yellow with linseed oil, the stamper created this exuberant pattern of medallions in a floral border with swags, perhaps with the intention of imitating brightly colored printed cottons. While it is unknown if Nancy Corbly Clark embellished this bedcover herself or paid an itinerant linen stamper, she may have sewed the two pieces of white cloth together to make the full width of the bedcover and hand knotted the cotton fringe around the edges to finish it. Like the Metcalf family that moved from eastern Connecticut to upstate New York in the last years of the eighteenth century, Nancy Corbly Clark and her husband, Orson Clark (1792–1864), migrated west from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to southern Ohio in a time when areas north and west of the eastern seaboard became available to white settlement soon after displacement of their Indigenous populations.7

Stamped Bedcover
Figure 3. Stamped Bedcover. Probably Clermont County, Ohio, about 1830. Linen and cotton plain weave, stamped with pigment, knotted cotton fringe, 96 x 72 in. Gift of the American Textile History Museum, 2017.881.
The “Crafting a Nation” section of the exhibition included works from the first half of the nineteenth century and featured a pieced Carolina Lily quilt and a spectacular appliquéd Baltimore Album quilt that represent two significant branches of the American quilting tradition. (Fig. 4) (Fig. 5a) The unknown makers of both used finely printed cottons manufactured in British mills, which are most prominent in the borders of large-scale furnishing chintz that frame each quilt. While nothing is known about the makers of either quilt, these exquisite examples of their type were made of cotton, the “stuff” that fueled the Atlantic economy in the first half of the nineteenth century. At the outbreak of the Civil War, raw cotton exports from the United States had increased over 100-fold since the beginning of the century, and English mills in cities like Manchester depended on US exports for at least half of their raw cotton supply. The displacement of Indigenous people from areas of the Deep South and the enslavement of millions of African Americans who cultivated cotton on this same seized land ensured the industrial production of cotton cloth and America’s place in the world’s economy.8 Of course, although we cannot know if the creators of either of these quilts consciously acknowledged the human cost of the materials that they clearly valued and manipulated with great skill, the story of cotton is literally on the face of each quilt and deeply embedded in its making.
Carolina Lily Quilt
Figure 4. Carolina Lily Quilt. United States, 1830–early 1840s. Printed plain weave cotton, pieced, appliquéd, and quilted 99 ¼ x 98 ½ in. Museum purchase with funds donated by Jane Burke, Penny Vinik, Ruth Oliver Jolliffe, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and the Jane Marsland and Judith A. Marsland Fund, 2008.651.
Album Quilt
Figure 5a. Album Quilt. Baltimore, Maryland, 1847–1850. Cotton plain weave, pieced, appliquéd, and embroidered with silk thread and quilted, ink and watercolor, 104 x 103 in. Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously, 1999.531.
The Carolina Lily quilt was made by sewing together or piecing geometric shapes of white, red or green fabric to create blocks of red flowers to be interspersed with solid blocks of green printed cotton. Variation among the blocks of the Baltimore Album quilt suggests that it was made by several hands. The star block on the lower right is a relatively simple pattern of hexagonal pieces sewn together and then appliquéd onto the white cloth block, while other blocks contain elaborately appliquéd images of floral wreaths, vases, and cornucopia with birds and butterflies and two hunting scenes. (Fig. 5b) Sometimes, these elements were raised with stuffing beneath or outlined with tiny buttonhole stitches and embellished with hand drawn details, like those of the female figure with a floral banner in one of the center blocks. (Fig. 5c) While many nineteenth-century album quilts survive today in private and public collections, those made in Baltimore from the late 1840s through the 1850s are among the most elaborate and finely worked. They were often made in domestic workshop settings, where their production was organized by upper class white women who hired seamstresses and others of lesser means to sew the blocks. They functioned as presentation pieces and were often commissioned to be given to local ministers, betrothed couples, and others who had contributed to their community.9
Album Quilt, detail
Figure 5b. Album Quilt, detail.
Album Quilt, detail
Figure 5c. Album Quilt, detail.
Around the same time but two-thirds of the way across the continent in what is now New Mexico, a woven blanket was made from locally raised and hand spun churro sheep’s wool. (Fig. 6) Weavings like this have been referred to as Rio Grande blankets, after the river that flows through this region of the Southwest, which was annexed by the United States in 1848, at the end of Mexican-American War. While Europeans brought churro sheep to this northern outpost of New Spain as early as the end of the sixteenth century, it was the arrival in 1805 of master weavers and brothers Ygnacio Ricardo and Juan Bazan from Puebla, a city southeast of Mexico City, that introduced designs like the serrated stripes of this Rio Grande blanket, which were common in the blankets and serapes of Oaxaca and Saltillo. Its brown and white stripes were made from wool in the natural color of the sheep, while the blue stripes were created from wool dyed locally with imported indigo.
Rio Grande Blanket
Figure 6. Rio Grande Blanket. New Mexico, Upper Rio Grande region, mid-19th century. Wool tapestry weave, 95 x 58 ¼ in. Gift of the Estate of David Rockefeller from the Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller, 2018 2018.270.
American quilts and other bedcovers have been part of the nation’s evolving understanding of itself since the great 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, when this patriotic coverlet was made. (Fig. 7) Produced on a power loom and patterned with wool wefts brightly colored with chemical or aniline dyes that were controlled with a Jacquard loom mechanism, this souvenir bedcover features the torch-bearing figure of Columbia atop Memorial Hall, where sculpture, paintings and other works considered “fine art” were displayed for the fair’s nearly ten million visitors. While the Centennial Exposition celebrated American technological achievements like the Corliss steam engine displayed in Machinery Hall, smaller and more nostalgic exhibitions in the Women’s Pavilion and the New England Log Home of domestic interiors featured quilts and coverlets. In these spaces, visitors encountered women in historical costume who demonstrated the use of spinning wheels, tape lace looms, and quilting frames.10 While this souvenir coverlet represented America’s technological progress, the country’s first international exposition established a pattern of illustrating America’s past through women’s work in textiles. Like other international expositions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the contributions of African American men and women and the voices of women’s suffrage advocates and organizations were absent from these backward-looking public displays.11
Centennial Coverlet
Figure 7. Centennial Coverlet. United States, about 1876. Wool and cotton, jacquard woven 77 ⅝ x 85 ⅜ in. Gift of the American Textile History Museum - Ross Collection, 2017.895.
The arrival of the railroad in the last quarter of the nineteenth century introduced factory-produced wool, often dyed in bright, synthetic colors.12 Building railroad lines did more than change the palette and materials available to weavers and quilters. It brought unwanted change, if not dire threat, to many Indigenous communities, while benefiting certain white ones, as seen in one quilt associated with the small city of Peru, Indiana. While no family history is associated with what is now called the Railroad quilt, the initials appliquéd on the caboose to the right of “ER 1888” suggest that it was made to commemorate the construction of a ten-mile connector between the Eel River and Wabash lines in that year, which made Peru an important stop in a rail network that connected Detroit with Kansas City and extended as far east at Toledo. (Fig. 8) The Eel River Railroad’s repair shops and roundhouse were disassembled and moved from their original location in nearby Logansport, Indiana. The whimsical depiction of this “stolen” roundhouse at the center of quilt with flag flying belies the acrimonious press and lawsuits generated by the citizens of Logansport and investors in the Eel River Railroad against the Wabash Railway Railroad. The white letters appliquéd on to the caboose, “MLB,” suggest that the quilt may have been made by Fannie Bears Gould (1874–1941) for her mother Madeline Lamb Bears. Their family was involved in several railway companies with Indiana routes, and Fannie Bears Gould was known for her prize-winning needlework. Gould also served as the vice-president of the committee that organized Indiana’s representation in the 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Exposition. While not documented to have hung in an international or regional fair, its design suggests that it was made for display on a wall, not to be draped over a bed.13
Railroad Quilt
Figure 8. Railroad Quilt. Probably Peru, Indiana, after 1888. Cotton plain weave; appliquéd, quilted, and embroidered 77 ½ x 73 ¾ in. Otis Norcross Fund and Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund, 2000.672.
In the exhibition section “Quilts as Art,” the Railroad quilt was hung opposite to two national treasures made by Harriet Powers—her Bible quilt made 1885–1886, now in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Pictorial quilt made 1895–1898, now in the collection of the MFA. (Fig. 9) (Fig. 10a) Considered the mother of the African American story quilt tradition, Harriet Powers (1837–1910) was well known when she made these works of art. Born into slavery in Madison County, Georgia, Harriet Powers married her husband Armistead Powers in 1855. By the mid-1880s, they had moved their family to a farm outside of Athens where she and her husband became active members of the Mount Zion Baptist Church. According to the artist herself, they read the Bible regularly.14 Her life and two surviving quilts have been studied extensively for many years, often in the context of West African textile tradition and sometimes as the product of a solitary, visionary artist.15 (Fig. 11)
Bible Quilt
Figure 9. Harriet Powers (1837–1910). Bible Quilt, American, 1885–1886. Pieced, appliquéd and quilted printed cotton. Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Pictorial Quilt, Athens, Georgia
Figure 10a. Harriet Powers (1837–1910). Pictorial Quilt, Athens, Georgia 1895–98. Cotton plain weave and metallic threads, pieced, appliquéd, embroidered, and quilted, 68 ⅞ x 105 in. Bequest of Maxim Karolik, 64.619.
Harriet Powers (1837–1910)
Figure 11. Harriet Powers (1837–1910). Studio of Charles F. McDannell, n.d. Photograph. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The Reverend Charles Cuthbert Hall received the Pictorial quilt as a gift from a group of “faculty ladies” at Atlanta University in 1898 as thanks for his support of the university, founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association to educate African Americans. This quilt’s Old and New Testament scenes made it an appropriate gift for a Presbyterian minister. Powers also depicted four stories of natural phenomena, including the Leonid meteor shower of 1833 in the center block with orange stars, and a morality lesson in the Pictorial quilt. (Fig. 10b) Its fifteen appliquéd blocks, nearly all of which contain striking reverse appliquéd stars and even the hand and eye of God, are arranged horizontally, much like the example in the Smithsonian’s collection described by Harriet Powers as “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.” Known today as the Bible quilt, it garnered prizes and celebratory newspaper coverage after its display at the Northeast Georgia Fair in 1886 and in the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895. They are exhibited together for the first time ever in the MFA’s Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories.16
Detail, Pictorial Quilt
Figure 10b. Detail, Pictorial Quilt.
The dual role that quilts played in America as functional bedcovers and works created for display on walls took on even greater significance in the last decades of the twentieth century. The last two sections of the exhibition titled “Modern Myths” and “Making a Difference” explore this unresolved tension. Quilts had been shown on the walls of many American art museums throughout the twentieth century as examples of finely made textiles among other decorative arts before what is often considered the “break though” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art during the summer of 1971. This exhibition, titled Abstract Design in American Quilts, featured about sixty nineteenth-century quilts from the collection of Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof and focused on the visual similarities between quilts’ geometric patterns and mid-twentieth-century abstract painting. Amish quilts, like the MFA’s 1940s Floating Bars quilt, came to represent a homegrown and prescient apotheosis of non-representational art, described in 1997 by the noted critic Robert Hughes as “America’s first abstract art.”17 (Fig. 12) Feminist art historians like Patricia Mainardi criticized Holstein for focusing on the anonymity of the quiltmakers and his use of “the quilts to legitimize contemporary formalist painting.”18 In the past decade, a more nuanced understanding of these iconic quilts has emerged that acknowledges the influence of Welsh quilting traditions on Amish quilts, their changing meanings and functions in Amish communities, their marketing to outsiders, and their place in museum collections.19
Floating Bars Quilt
Figure 12. Floating Bars Quilt. Amish, Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, about 1940. Pieced wool plain weave top, wool plain weave back and binding; quilted, 78 ¾ x 82 ¼ in. Museum purchase with funds donated by Hanne and Jeremy Grantham, Jane and Robert Burke, an anonymous donor, Jane Pappalardo, Lynne and Mark Rickabaugh, Carol Wall, Heidi Nitze, Ruth Oliver Jolliffe, and Mrs. Robert B. Newman, and funds by exchange from anonymous gifts, a Bequest of Miss Ellen Starkey Bates, William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, Gift of the Estate of Annie B. Coolidge, Gift of Mrs. John Dane, Gift of Louis H. Farlow, Alfred Greenough Collection, Gift of M. M. Greer, Gift of Mrs. Chester A. Hoefer, James Fund, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Harold Karlin, Gift of Miss Mildred Kennedy, Gift of Francis Stewart Kershaw, Gift of Mrs. Bliss Knapp, Gift of Mathias Komor, The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, Gift of Miss Louise M. Nathurst, Gift of Mrs. George N. Northrop, and Gift of Mrs. Albertine W. F. Valentine, residuary legatee under the will of Hervey E. Wetzel, 2011.86.
Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories features several quilts from the MFA’s collection made by women in Gee’s Bend or Boykin, Alabama from the 1930s to 1975. The first Gee’s Bend quilt seen by visitors to the exhibition was the “Vote” quilt made by Irene Williams (1920–2015) in 1975, where it was displayed with others in red-white-and-blue flag and star patterns that span nearly a century and over 1,000 miles of the continental United States to suggest the art form’s expansive and evolving nature. (Fig. 13) The Vote quilt and others made in Gee’s Bend were stacked up high on beds to keep loved ones warm, like those made by Amish women in Pennsylvania and states across the Midwest. Like the Amish, Mennonite, and other pieced geometric quilts collected and exhibited by Jonathan Holstein and others of his generation, these were presented as abstract constructions in cloth. In 2002, an exhibition of Gee’s Bend quilts organized by collector William Arnett traveled to thirteen museums in the United States, including the MFA and the Whitney Museum of American Art.20
Vote quilt (Housetop Variation)
Figure 13. Irene Williams (American, 1920–2015). Vote quilt (Housetop Variation), Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 1975. Printed cotton plain weave, pieced, 89 x 78 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Frank B. Bemis Fund, the Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, and Gallery Instructor 50th Anniversary Fund to support The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, and gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the collection of Vanessa Vadim, 2018.3095. © Estate of Irene Williams / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Unlike Jonathan Holstein’s Abstract Design in American Quilts thirty years earlier, Bill Arnett and other contributors identified each quiltmaker, placing them within the context of this community while selectively overlooking broader aspects of the makers’ class and race.21 Irene Williams, for example, lived on the outskirts of town in the Rehoboth neighborhood and began making quilts after her marriage with the few materials at hand, instead of learning from aunts and grandmothers as many other Gee’s Bend quilters did. It is not known if Irene Williams joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21-25, 1966, just nine years before she made this quilt from this red, white and blue VOTE patterned cotton and white and pink solid fabric with pieces checked and blue striped cloth. She most likely saw him speak one evening at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church just a year before this historic march. Inspired by Dr. King Jr.’s words, many in Gee’s Bend crossed the Alabama River to register to vote at the Wilcox County courthouse in Camden, only to have the ferry service terminated soon after. Williams’s quilt speaks to the innumerable obstacles to overcome to assert this most basic right of citizenship.22

Molly Upton (1953–1977) made Watchtower in the same year that Irene Williams created the Vote quilt in the wake of the civil rights movement, but in anticipation of the Bicentennial. (Fig. 14) In the summer of 1975, Upton set up her studio in Boston City Hall, along with friend and artistic partner Susan Hoffman (b. 1953), after receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Works in Progress project that funded artists working along the city’s Freedom Trail. Work from all ten artists participating in this project was shown at the Boston Center for the Arts in an exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art. Upton combined a range of textiles to create this imagined architectural structure in black and white pieces of cloth placed in a landscape of subtle earth tones beneath a deep blue sky made from solidly dyed blue cloth and worn blue denim pieces closer to the horizon.23 Upton was in the vanguard of American artists from this period who chose the quilt medium to express their vision, making what have come to be known as ‘art’ quilts, destined for gallery walls.24 In traveling exhibitions of art quilts to Europe and especially Japan, this new generation of quilts functioned as cultural exports.

Figure 14. Molly Upton (American, 1953–1977). Watchtower, 1975, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Boston, Massachusetts. Cotton and wool and polyester blends in plain weave and other structures, pieced and quilted 90 x 110 in. Gift of the Upton family in honor of Molly Upton, 2017.3921. Reproduced with permission.

Fabric of a Nation, and the MFA’s great collection, celebrate the American quilt—a living, vibrant art form—through exceptional objects representing centuries of human creativity and ingenuity. Long admired for their utility, beauty, and design, as well as the sense of community they inspire, quilts have been present in American private and public life for generations. Created by women and men, known individuals and those yet to be identified, urban and rural makers, and members of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American, and LGBTQIA+ communities, quilts and other bedcovers in the MFA’s collection reflect the diversity of America and the constant renewal of its cultural landscape. As the country has changed, so too has the purpose and meaning of quilts. Early on, quilts, as well as woven blankets, coverlets, and bed ruggs, were appreciated for their warmth and their artistry, as decorative centerpieces in the homes of their makers and those who received them as treasured gifts. By the mid-nineteenth century, quilts were displayed in fairs and other public places, and some makers began to see themselves as textile artists. Today, quilters have expanded the medium to encompass a wide range of techniques, materials, and imagery. Some contemporary artists are using the quilt form to bring attention to social justice issues and to address difficult moments from the nation’s past and present. But all these works share one essential characteristic—an extraordinary power to tell stories, often joyous, sometimes painful, but always unforgettable.

About the Author

Jennifer M. Swope is the David and Roberta Logie Associate Curator of Textile & Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a co-curator and co-author of the exhibition and related publication Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories.

1 Terrell Armistead Crow and Mary Moulton Barden, Live Your Own Life: The Family Papers of Mary Bayard Clarke, 1854–1886 (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2003) as discussed in Brackman, Barbara, Material Culture, Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman’s Blog About Quilts and Fabric, Past and Present

2 Dolores Pfeuffer-Scherer, Remembrance and the American Revolution: Women and the 1876 Centennial Exhibition (Temple Univ., dissertation 2016), pp. 59-61, 82-86, 122-126.

3 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 18-19

4 Dennis Carr, Made in the Americas (Boston: MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2015)

5 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 50-51

6 Linda Eaton, Quilts in a Material World (New York: Abrams in association with Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum, 2007), pp. 98-110.

7 Lynne Z. Bassett, “Stenciled Bedcovers,” The Magazine Antiques 163, no. 2 (February 2003): 70-77.

8 Theo Merrill Fisher, “Some Early Pattern Blocks,” The Magazine Antiques 8, no. 4 (April 1928): 285-288.

9 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 68-71.

10 Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton, a Global History (New York: Vintage Books, 2014) 205-207, 242-248

11 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 58-61.

12 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 76-77.

13 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 90-91.

14 Kyra Hicks, This I Accomplish (n.p.: Black Threads Press, 2009), p. 4.

15 Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “A Quilt Unlike Any Other: Rediscovering the Work of Harriet Powers,” in Writing Women’s History: A Tribute To Anne Firor Scott, Chancellor Porter L. Fortune Symposium in Southern History Series, ed. Elizabeth Anne Paine (Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2013).

16 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 124-129.

17 Janneken Smucker, Amish Quilts, Crafting and American Icon (Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 2013) pp. ix-xiii.

18 Patricia Mainardi, “Quilts: The Great American Art,” in Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, eds., Feminism and Art History (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 331-33, 344. As quoted in Jenni Sorkin’s “Affinities in Abstraction: Textiles, Otherness, and Paining in the 1970s,” in Outliers and American Vanguard Art, by Lynne Coke et al. (Chicago: University Press, 2018) pp. 93-95, 98-102.

19 Janneken Smucker, Amish Quilts, Crafting and American Icon (Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 2013) pp. 141-230. Dorothy Osler, Amish Quilts and the Welsh Connection (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2011), p. 41. Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 98-101.

20 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 170-172.

21 Bridget R. Cooks, “The Gee’s Bend Effect,” Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture 12, no. 3 (2014): 349.

22 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 178-181.

23 Pamela A. Parmal, Jennifer M. Swope, Lauren D. Whitley, Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021) pp. 182-189.

24 Robert Shaw, The Art Quilt (New York: Hugh Levin Associates, 1997) pp. 45-77.

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