On this day in 1936, postmodern dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown was born in Aberdeen, Washington. Brown founded the avante-garde Judson Dance Theater in 1962. She has collaborated with artists Robert Rauschenberg and Laurie Anderson, including the piece “If you couldn’t see me” (1984) danced entirely with her back to the audience. Brown was the first female choreographer to receive the coveted MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Genius Award.”
Allison Ann Aller created this 16” x 16” crazy quilt titled “Hungarian Medallion” in Washougal, Washington for the Quilt Alliance’s 2014 Inspired By contest/exhibition/auction. Allie wrote in her artist’s statement:
I love Broderie Perse and medallions quilts, so the quilt I chose for my inspiration was the perfect jumping off point. Because I am a crazy quilter, I am used to working in three dimensional surface design, so including such embellishment was inevitable! The colors of course came from the happy Hungarian embroidery that is the focus of the quilt. It is bound in vintage velvet ribbon.
On this day in 1973, former Beatle Ringo Starr earns a solo #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his pop tune “Photograph.” His second solo hit was “You’re Sixteen” which topped the chart just two months later.
Darlene M. Jones-Reid of Arizona made this Crazy quilt, titled “Mother, Mae & Belle,” in 1996 by recreating a quilt made by her great grandmother, grandmother and great aunt. She used a photo transfer technique to add images of each of the women to the 42” x 34 “ quilt. An excerpt from an essay written by Jones-Reid is included with this record:
I stepped a little closer to take it all in and I completely fell in love with the crazy quilt and these three quilting foremothers I had never known. I wasn’t the only quilter in the family! Hurray! For me and Hurray! for them.
Jones-Reid was inducted into the Arizona Quilters Halls of Fame in 2010 and the Arizona Quilt Documentation Project contributed this record to The Quilt Index in 2014.
On this day in 1934, aspiring dancer Ella Fitzgerald, intimidated by other competitors, changed her act to singing at the last minute and won the Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Fitzgerald was only seventeen years old and a ward of New York State at the time, having been orphaned two years before. After a failed first attempt singing “The Object of My Affection”, the singer’s second try at the tune brought down the house. By the 1950’s, Fitzgerald had become a jazz legend for her innovative vocal skills.
Lorraine Lyon Fitzgerald of Nebraska pieced this “Delectable Mountains in Rising Sun Setting” quilt top in 1960 and it was documented in 1989 as part of the Nebraska Quilt Project, carried out by the Lincoln Quilters Guild.
On this day in 1827, abolitionist and educator Emily Howland was born in Sherwood, New York. Howland taught the children of freed slaves in Washington, D.C. In 1857, she built a school in Sherwood and personally founded and financially supported fifty other schools for emancipated slaves. She taught in several of these schools and was also active in local to national suffrage movements.
Myla Perkins machine pieced, hand appliqued and machine quilted this quilt, titled “Underground Railroad” (or Grandmother’s Fan variation), in 1984. Perkins made the quilt when she was a member of The Quilting Six group, a small quilting circle in Detroit, Michigan made up of former sorority sisters, college friendships and two sets of sisters. The quilt is owned by the Michigan State University Museum.
On this day in 1945, Wilma Pearl Mankiller, who would become the first female chief of he Cherokee Nation, was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She was the sixth of eleven children; her father was full-blooded Cherokee and his mother was a Caucasian of Dutch and Irish descent. Mankiller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for her work on the relationship between the Federal Government and the Cherokee Nation.
This “Indian Boys and Girls Quilt” was made by the Senior Citizens Sewing Club in Cherokee, North Carolina in 1996. The piece was machine and hand pieced and hand quilted by the group who “meet each Wednesday to make quilts, share stories, discuss tribal politics, and speak the Cherokee language.” The quilt is now in the collection of the Michigan State University Museum.
On this day in 1558, 25-year-old Elizabeth succeeded her sister Queen Mary I, beginning the Elizabethan Age. Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and was nicknamed the Virgin Queen because she resisted marriage feeling it would endanger her authority as ruler of England and Ireland.
Elizabeth Briskey Mast made this scrap crib quilt around 1898 in Arthur, Illinois. The 34” x 39” quilt was machine pieced and hand quilted and is now in the permanent collection of the Illinois State Museum, who contributed it to The Quilt Index in 2000.
On this day in 1915, Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) died in Alabama at the age of 59 from congestive heart failure. Washington was born into slavery in rural Virginia and after the Civil War he worked many jobs and still managed to go to school. At age 16 he left home and walked 500 miles to the Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute and took a job as a janitor to pay his room and board.
Eva Perkins Ragsdale of Trevillians, Virginia (about 170 miles from Washington’s birthplace) made this Brick Pattern Quilt around 1915 from checked, striped and plaid wool flannel. The quilt was documented as part of the Kentucky Quilt Project.
On this day in 1982, the Vietnam Memorial, designed by Yale University architecture student Maya Lin, was dedicated in Washington, D.C. The monument is a simple v-shaped black granite wall inscribed with the names of 57,939 Americans who died in the war, arranged in order of the date of their death versus their rank.
This Double Irish Chain Crib Quilt was entirely handmade by an unknown quiltmaker in 1830 and was purchased for the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum from Kathi LaTourette of Evergreen, Colorado through memorial donations for Staff Seargant Joshua Ryan Hager, the son of a museum member who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2007. LaTourette lost her first husband in the Vietnam War and had a son who also served in Iraq.
RMQM is so pleased to house this crib quilt as a symbol of a mother’s love for her child, and in keeping with that, as a symbol of new life that each child begins. Last, in tribute, that we may be reminded always, that mothers before, in the present, and mothers still to come, have and will lose their children to war.
On this day in 1954, Ellis Island shuts its doors. The immigration gateway that opened in 1892 processed more than 12 million people with a peak occurring from 1892-1924. The island was name for its owner in the 1770’s, Samuel Ellis.
This Navy Signature fundraising quilt was made by the Ladies Auxiliary, Fleet Reserve Association, Unit No. 5 in Norfolk, Virginia between 1941-42. It contains 35 blocks and over 400 embroidered names, including that of NYC Mayor Fiorella Laguardia. From the age of 25-28 Laguardia, whose father was Italian and whose mother was Jewish of Austrian heritage, worked as an interpreter for the U. S. Immigration Services at Ellis Island.
Karen Biedler Alexander of Lopez Island, Washington, owns the quilt and contributed her photos and research to the Quilt Index as part of the Signature Quilt Pilot Project.
On this day in 1918, World War I (also known as the Great War) ended on the 11 a.m. when German forces, low on manpower and supplies and facing certain invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies outside of Compiegne, France. The war left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, and at least five million civilians dies from disease, starvation or exposure.
In honor of Veteran’s Day I’d like to spotlight two quilts and their makers whose work is documented in the Quilt Index, one made by a solider and one made in honor of a military nurse.
Levi Griswold of Yarrow, Missouri machine and hand pieced this Schoolhouse Variation quilt sometime between 1890-1925 and his aunt hand quilted it. From this Quilt Index record, contributed by the State Historical Society of Iowa: “Levi made the quilt when he was about 15 years old. He was awarded Distinguished Service Cross in WW I where he was killed in action.”
Quiltmaker Ann Holmes from Asheville, North Carolina, made “Thank You Clara Barton” as her entry to the Quilt Alliance’s “Home Is Where the Quilt Is” contest in 2012. Ann’s artist’s statement:
“It is amazing all that she accomplished for our country. Establishing a public school; “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War; spent four years to identify over 22,000 missing soldiers; established the American Red Cross and served as president for 23 years; at 83, president of National First Aid Association. She certainly patched many lives together! Her work was not considered women’s work and never had the right to vote. Clara died in 1912.”