Colonial Williamsburg

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Williamsburg, Virginia, was a powerful center of thought and style during the 18th century. In this bustling town, patriots such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, established the ideals of liberty, independence, and personal freedom that influenced the founding of our nation and have inspired generations. Today, it thrives as a restored town and living history museum. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation also operates several nationally known musuems, including the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum; Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr.; and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, where quilts are displayed in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery.

The collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation contain quilts that span almost 400 years and several continents. The oldest quilts in the collection, dating to the early 17th century, were made in India and the Mediterranean for export to the West, including the fledgling American colonies. The collection's 18th-century examples include sophisticated silk-embroidered English quilts with designs of animals, oriental figures, foliage, and flowering trees, all heavily influenced by imported Indian textiles. These elaborate quilts were made by professional needleworkers as well as by talented amateurs.

The American bed quilts from the 18th-20th centuries in the collection display a variety of techniques, colors, and materials. Whole-cloth quilts are made from brightly colored worsted wool and quilted with running stitches in bold floral patterns. Pristine white examples are often stuffed to make the floral or patriotic patterns stand out in bold relief. Multicolored pieced and appliqued quilts from the 19th and 20th centuries are special favorites of today's visitor. The quilts in the Williamsburg collections demostrate the multicultural nature of American society, including the Anglo-American, German, Amish, and Mennonite communities, as well as African Americans.

Current Quilt Publications: The 2008 American Quilt Calendar, The Lang Companies The 2009 American Quilt Calendar, The Lang Companies

Future Quilt Symposium: "Quilted Fashions: 400 Years of Quilting" February 22-25, 2009 Visit CWF website at for more information

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