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.