February 9, 2019

The Melrose Quilt - Statistics and Stories



 

Now that all the excitement and preparations around the exhibit have come and gone, I'm publishing the compilations of statistics and stories I discovered about life in Melrose, MA, at the end of the 19th century.

A previous post describes the exhibit and events.  Links to many chapters chronicling the research process can be found below.  I hope you enjoy the saga as much as I enjoyed it!

Here are links to the data.  (Depending on your browser and browser settings, you may see the pages here or you may find them in your downloads.)

List of Names on the Quilt - Includes names as written and more complete names when found

Census Records Closest to 1895-1900 - Household members, ages, professions, stories

Census Data Used to Date the Quilt 

Summation of Interesting Facts and Stories

Names Listed in Order of Street Name and Number - In case you visit Melrose and want to look for houses where these people lived

Age Chart - Ages from census records closest to 1895-1900 

Here are all the previous posts:
Part 1 describes the quilt and the initial research.  Part 2 details how I narrowed down the dates, and relates some of the interesting family stories I began finding.  Part 3 tells the story of the Phinney, Dyer, and Hersey families.  Part 4 has general observations on life in the late 1890s.   Part 5 sums up my research.  Part 6 shares the first information from librarians and historians in Melrose.  I wrote a little aside about the fun of being able to look at original records online.  And, since the quilt did initially come to me for repair, and I did eventually stop reading census forms and do the repair work, and wrote up the techniques and choices involved.  And then I went back to the research, and continued to find lots of great information.  After the events, I described the homecoming experience and the exhibits, and wrote about the little quilt I made that was inspired by the historical quilt. 





January 29, 2019

Two Family Quilts

Here are two heirloom quilts that came to me in need of some TLC.

   

At some point, someone affixed typed labels that identify the quiltmakers and the quilts' histories.  This is what's called "provenance" in the antiques biz, and is always a good thing!

Quilt #1

January 21, 2019

A Happy Tale: Returning Lost Quilts to Their Family

 

 

My friends are very good to me.  Every time they see or hear something about quilts, they forward it on to me.  Thanks, y'all!  It always brightens my day. 

A friend sent me the link to a story one of his friends had written.  It's a heartwarming tale of family quilts lost and found.  I asked for permission to share the story with you all.  And she said yes!

Studying the Quilts
Quilts Go Home

The author is Suzanna Leigh.  The internet surely has become a marvelous tool that makes this kind of story possible.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do.  Brava, Suzanna for finding and caring for these family treasures!




January 10, 2019

Ancestor Quilt

So, as I mentioned in the post about all the quilt fun last month in Melrose, MA, the library hosted an exhibit of quilts inspired by the historical quilt I've been researching.  The exhibit was cleverly titled “Red, White, & Words,” referring to the antique red and white quilt that was inscribed with 222 names of Melrose-area residents at about 1897.  (The full list of links about the quilt and the research is below.)


I figured I wasn’t going to have time to make a quilt alongside all the prep I was doing for the exhibit and lecturing and traveling, but then an idea did just pop into my head…. you know how it goes.... and it wasn’t a terribly difficult idea….. 

So I made a tiny 3-block version of the Melrose quilt, inscribed with the names on my own family tree.  It was small, easy to piece, and tied, and I did indeed get it finished and submitted in time.  I even managed to find a red on cream polka dot fabric for the back, just like on the original!

The center block has myself and my husband in the middle, our two children on the sides, and my father and mother at top and bottom.

The top block connects to my father's name.  His brother is at the bottom, and their parents, my grandparents, are in the center.  My great-grandparents are on the left and top.  On the right my grandmother's siblings are memorialized, all but one of whom were killed, as were my grandparents, in the Holocaust. 

The bottom block connects to my mother's name.  Her parents, my grandparents, are in the center.  My great-grandparents are at top and bottom.  My great-great-grandparents are left and right. 

It was a surprisingly powerful feeling to write my ancestors’ names on a quilt!  They are now recorded in a way that is very near and dear to my heart.



Here are all the previous posts:
Part 1 describes the quilt and the initial research.  Part 2 details how I narrowed down the dates, and relates some of the interesting family stories I began finding.  Part 3 tells the story of the Phinney, Dyer, and Hersey families.  Part 4 has general observations on life in the late 1890s.   Part 5 sums up my research.  Part 6 shares the first information from librarians and historians in Melrose.  I wrote a little aside about the fun of being able to look at original records online.  And, since the quilt did initially come to me for repair, and I did eventually stop reading census forms and do the repair work, and wrote up the techniques and choices involved.  And then I went back to the research, and continued to find lots of great information.  After the events, I described the homecoming experience and the exhibits. And a set of summaries of the data and stories that brought the quilt to life. 

December 30, 2018

I've Had an Incredible December!!

Firstly:

While on my trip to Massachusetts and New Hampshire, my lecture "Quilt Repair Tales" was filmed for the Melrose, MA, local access cable.

Yep.  So now, I'm on TV.   (Right now, it's listed as a Current Video.  Eventually, I suspect it'll just show up on the Videos tab.

Secondly:

As if being on TV wasn't cool enough!  I got interviewed on a podcast!!!

I joined the facebook group associated with a wonderful podcast called "Just Wanna Quilt".  And when I wrote my little intro to the group, I guess I caught the eye of the woman whose brainchild this is, and she asked if I'd like to be interviewed about a project I'd mentioned in my intro.  Turns out, she didn't just want to talk about that, she'd checked out my website etc., and the interview is wide-ranging and about....me.  Whoa.  I don't know if my feet will ever come back to ground.

(As well as being a quilter, she's a lawyer, and designing all sorts of projects to learn about the whys and hows of the quilt world and quilt businesses and how copyright works in the quilt world, and also to create community.  In other words, she's being a quilt anthropologist.  So cool!) 

Yep.  So now, I'm on a podcast.


Somehow, I managed to keep breathing and sound pretty calm and rational in both cases!

So.....
I guess right now my mood is more like Happy Old Year rather than Happy New Year.  Wow.  Who knows what will happen next.  Grin grin grin!!!




December 26, 2018

Winter Visit to Sugar Hill, NH

In addition to all the goings on in Massachusetts that I described in the previous post, I spent several days up in Sugar Hill, NH, visiting our cousins.  We traveled north on a dark grey and rainy day.  It wasn't much for taking glorious photos from the bus, but I like the moodiness of these.
 

 

One day was devoted to quilty events.  My cousin is not a quilter, but she loves old things and pretty things.  They live in a house built in the 1820s that is chock full of pretty things collected as they traveled and lived around the world.  She volunteers with the local history museum and is great friends with the museum curator, and she has a good friend who quilts.

So between them, they devised a quilt day.  I gave the same lecture that I gave in Melrose - Quilt Repair Tales - which combines information on quilt repair philosophy and techniques with stories of interesting quilts that have passed through my studio over the years.  Participants brought quilts to show and discuss.  And we had a most scrumptious potluck meal.  All this transpired in a wonderful family home with incredible winter mountain views.

December 17, 2018

The Melrose Quilt Returns to Melrose, MA



Since my previous post, the events I described then have come to pass.  A 3 1/2 year project had its milestone event.  I’m not going to say that the project reached its conclusion, because I really want the research and storytelling around this quilt to continue.  There are plenty of loose ends left to be tied!

In that previous post, you can read the process leading up to this exhibit.  And at the end of that post, there are links to other posts that I wrote along the way during that 3 1/2 years.

In a nutshell:
The quilt magically found its way to me. The names on the quilt were researched.  And researched some more with the help of Melrose community historians.  The results were nicely typed and formatted.  By happy happenstance found myself in contact with a woman in Melrose who was excited about the quilt and about creating an event around it.  She found a venue.  She planned several associated events.  Descendants contributed stories and photos.  I repaired the quilt.  I put on a temporary backing to help support and protect the quilt while hanging.  And finally, 120 years after it was dedicated and stitched, the quilt and I flew off to Massachusetts!

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