On this day in 1989, San Francisco suffered the deadliest earthquake since 1906. The quake struck at 5:04 pm, lasted 15 seconds and registered a 7.1 on the Richter scale. The quake was witnessed on live television by fans watching the World Series baseball game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
This cheerful quilt titled “Bel peyizan lakay” was made by Haitian quiltmaker Denise Estava, whose partially constructed home was destroyed in the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Estava was one of the founders a cooperative called PeaceQuilts set up to raise money for relief assistance through the sale of quilts like this one. You can purchase quilts from this group at their website: http://www.haitipeacequilts.org. This quilt is part of the of the Michigan State University Museum Collection.
On this day in 1984, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a civil rights activist. The Nobel Committee cited his “role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa.”
This quilt, titled “Mandela Long Walk to Freedom” was made by Melzina Mazibuko of Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in 2010. The quilt was documented for the South Africa Quilt History Project and is now in the Michigan State University Museum collection. From this Quilt Index record: “Signed on the bottom front by the artist : “Melzina M.” Memory cloth made by Melzina M. in South Africa. Small colorful wallhanging on black cotton ground. Embroidery and applique on the cloth depict a scene in the Robben Island Prison of Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Tutu and Tamba breaking rocks, doing manual labor. There are prison buildings in the background. The cloth is embellished with beads.”
On this day in 1895, the American novel The Red Badge of Courage written by 24-year-old Stephen Crane is published in book form. The Civil War tale from a soldier’s perspective first appeared as a syndicated newspaper series. Crane was the youngest of 14 children, born in 1871 and raised in New York and New Jersey. Crane self-published his first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Street, about a poor girl’s decline, based on a woman his lower-class New York neighborhood.
J. B. Roberson of Cleburne Texas made this Family Tree Quilt in 1893. From this Quilt Index record: “The December 20th date suggests that J. B. Roberson made this quilt for his wife as a Christmas gift. At the bottom of the quilt he credits his brother-in-law J.W. Mills, who held the bulk of the quilt for him while he guided it under the needle of the treadle sewing machine. One of the quilt maker’s sons remembers his father as selling and demonstrating sewing machines, among other jobs.”
The quilt was documented during the Texas Quilt Search Project and is included in the book Lone Stars: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, Vol. I, 1836-1936, by Karoline Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes (Austin: University of Texas Press,1986.) It was included in an exhibition by the same name at the Texas State Capitol Rotunda, in Austin, Texas April 19-21, 1986.
On this day in 1935, John Royce Mathis was born in Gilmer, Texas to Clem and Mildred Mathis. The family moved to San Francisco when Johnny was a young boy his father, recognizing his son’s musical potential, bought him a piano for $25 and traded odd jobs for voice lessons. Mathis excelled at sports too—competing as a star athlete in track and field and basketball in high school. Mathis’s recording career highlights includes an unprecedented 480 continuous weeks on the Billboard Top Albums Chart for his Greatest Hits record, released in 1958.
Donoene McKay of Gilmer, Texas machine pieced and hand quilted this Yellow Rose of Texas quilt in 1983, using more than 5,000 pieces to create the pictorial motif. This quilt was reviewed and documented during the Texas Sesquicentennial Quilt Association’s Phase II of the Texas Quilt Search, 1986-1989, and contributed to The Quilt Index by the Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
From this record:
Quiltmaker states: I always wanted to do something in mosaic and did not know how. Had always done my own needlepoint designs and realized one day that each stitch could be used as a square. I worked out a needlepoint rose from [the Jackson & Perkins] catalog–then painted it in oils, then marked a grid. The Olfa cutter was new and gave me trouble to learn to use, but what a godsend for cutting out 5000+ little squares. I sewed on 4 machines with different colors thread, having filed the presser feet to one eighth in width. I made a mock-up with muslin background and began again with the green background. Both quilts were finished in one year.”
On this day in 1988, Stacy Allison of Portland, Oregon, became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. Allison is now an author and motivational speaker.
Jan Magee of Denver, Colorado machine pieced and embroidered and machine and hand quilted this 22” x 29” wall piece, titled “Spears, Globes, Carpets, and Climbers” in 2004. From this Quilt Index record:
This quilt is one of 64 art quilts that make up the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum‘s Rooted in Tradition Collection, which is on traveling exhibit throughout the USA through 2008. Featured in the book “Rooted in Tradition: Art Quilts from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.” … Donated to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum by the maker, Jan Magee of Denver, CO.
On this day in 1953, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, a photographer for the Washington Times-Herald, at St. Mary’s church in Newport, Rhode Island. Wedding guests numbered over 750 and another 3,000 onlookers waited outside the church. Kennedy was elected U.S. President seven years later, the youngest man to ever take this office.
This Kaleidoscope quilt top was made around 1919 in Newport, Rhode Island. The owner discovered the quilt and others in an old sea chest in his family home, and documented in the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project in 1992. From this record: “Owner is unsure of who made this and other quilts found with it, but believes it to be one of three women: Pamela Albro-owner’s great grandmother, Fanny Albro Barker-owner’s grandmother, or Rebecca Barker Dennis-owner’s aunt.”
On this day in 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out in the United States by al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations. 2,753 people were killed in the World Trade Center in New York City, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and 40 people were killed on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
Rebecca Magnus of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan made this Square in a Square quilt in 2001. She remembers: “I was tying the knots in the last two sections of machine quilting threads when I saw the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Center. This will forever be etched in my mind – where I was and what I was doing.” Magnus documented her quilt through the Michigan Quilt Project.
On this day in 1893, First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland, gave birth to their second daughter, Esther, in the White House. The Cleveland child was not the first baby to be born in the White House; Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha Randolph gave birth to her son James Madison Randolph there in 1806.
Louiza Sheardon of Iowa (Cold or Collins) made this Churn Dash Crib Quilt in July, 1893. A note sewn to the quilt reads:
“John W. Phares. This brown calico with the little white and green specks in is a dress of your grand mother Paxton’s mother’s. Consequently it was little Louiza Phare’s Great Great Grand Mother’s dress. I made a present of this little quilt to my name-sake this 3rd day – july 1893 in the 74 year of my age. Your Aunt Lou Sheardon (Shardon?) Copied by Louiza’s Sister (Laura)”
The owner of the quilt, a relative of Mary Louiza Phares, received it as a gift and documented it during the Florida Quilt Project.
On this day in 1781, one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War took place in Eutaw Springs, on the banks of the Santee River in South Carolina. This was the last major battle of the Revolutionary war to take place in the South and casualties included 500 Americans and 700 British.
Charlotte Evance Cordes hand quilted this wholecloth Tree of Life quilt around 1810 in St. Stephen’s Parish, South Carolina (about 25 miles east of Eutaw Springs). Cordes was the daughter of Major Thomas Evance, and the quilt remained with the family until 1983 when the family donated the quilt to the DAR Museum.
On this day in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Beverly Ann White of Pontiac, Michigan made this quilt, titled “View from the Mountain Top” in 1991. White made this quilt to teach students, family, and friends about important heroes in African-American history. The quilt features appliqued and embroidered portraits of Medgar Evers, Thrugood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Bunche, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Dubois. [Dr. King’s “I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech was delivered on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.] White donated her quilt to the Michigan State University Museum in 2003.