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Quilting American History

More than just Fabric and Thread

Have you seen the doll quilts donated to our American Girl Lending Program?

Check out the display at the Central Library, then learn more about the history of quilting in the United States, and women’s history as it is revealed through quilts…


history of the patchwork quiltThe History of the Patchwork Quilt
by Schnuppe Von Gwinner

The origins, traditions and symbolism of patchwork in clothing and quilts are explored from multinational examples ranging over the past 500 years. Color and black-and-white photographs show beautiful applique and Amish quilts as well as crazy quilts, bridal and friendship quilts and more. Examples represent historical and contemporary prize-winning designs. Translated from German.


remember me women friendship quiltsRemember Me: Women and Their Friendship Quilts
by Linda Otto Lipsett

Friendship quilts were made from pieced blocks inscribed with names, dates, places, verses, or practical sayings. The poignant lives of seven ordinary New England women are revealed as the author carefully researched each woman’s quilt (most from the 1840s and 1850s), and her life. Lipsett dug through public records, traveled across America, and talked with descendants and genealogists to learn about these women who coped with pioneer life, typhoid, the Civil War, and the death of children.


pioneer women and quiltsHo for California! Pioneer Women and their Quilts
by Jean Ray Laury

Reproductions of 101 quilts made in California or brought there by pioneers or their descendants, accompanied by brief texts that identify the creator, where possible; the story of the quilt’s journey to California; and salient historical data. [Publishers Weekly]


The Quilt Walk
by Sandra Dallas

Ten-year-old Emmy Blue learns the true meaning of friendship–and how to quilt–while making a harrowing wagon journey from Illinois to Colorado with her family in the 1860s.



Most Loved in All the World
by Tonya Cherie Hagamin

Even though Mama is an agent on the Underground Railroad, in order to help others she must remain a slave, but she teaches her daughter the value of freedom through a gift of love and sacrfice.

slave quilts in the antebellum southStitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Ante Bellum South
by Gladys-Marie Fry

In persuing a desire to learn more about her enslaved great-great-grandmother (who was a skilled seamstress), Fry undertook a national search to locate slave-crafted textiles. The 123 color and black and white photographs highlight many of the finest and most interesting examples of the quilts, woven coverlets, counterpanes, rag rugs, and crocheted artifacts attributed to slave women and men, and offer a glimpse into the lives and creativity of African American quilters during the era of slavery.

The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier

A young English Quaker, Honor Bright and her sister move to Ohio in 1850. But when her sister dies suddenly on the journey, Honor finds herself alienated and alone in a strange country. Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad at the same time that the Fugitive Slave Act is enacted, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Quilting and sewing figure prominently in the story, as they did in the lives of women in the 1800s.

The Civil War Love Letters Quilt: 121 Quilt Blocks Inspired by Love and War
by Rosemary Youngs

A history book, quilting guide, and touching tale of the love shared by Civil War soldiers, their sweethearts and families, this new guide showcases 121 different paper pieced block patterns with the actual letter that inspired them. The collection includes love letters from President Rutherford B. Hayes to his family, Newton Scott to his childhood friend (whom he married upon returning from the war), and David Winn, a soldier who ultimately gave his life for his country.


Small EndearmentsSmall Endearments: Nineteenth Centurty Quilts for Children and Dolls
by Sandi Fox

Providing more than warmth and decoration, 19th-century quilts for children and dolls were actually celebrations in fabric of life that served as colorful records of important family events such as marriages, births, and deaths. With more than 250 illustrations.



A Communion of Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers and Their Stories
by Roland L. Freeman

The first national survey of African-American quiltmakers, this is also a personal record of how the author’s life has intertwined with the world of quiltmaking for almost sixty years–”as an African-American male; as a child who was deeply influenced by the cultural traditions and magical powers of quilts; and, for more than three decades, as a photographer and folklorist.


Quilting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time
by Katherine Bell

As crafters of all ages take to their sewing machines in unprecedented numbers, many of them join a movement to distribute hope and warmth to those in need through quilting.  Their efforts range from Newborns in Need, a group that makes clothing for premature babies at nearby hospitals; to Quilts of Valor, which makes quilts to honor wounded soldiers; to the Sleeping Bag Project, which distributes 100,000 homemade sleeping bags to the homeless every year. Also includes 15 projects and guidelines for quilters who want to contribute to an existing effort or establish a new one.


Quilting Fiction in series:



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