Friday, October 2, 2015

Today! A Celebration of the Work of Ann Romines

Join us today to celebrate the work of Ann Romines:

American Literature, Women's Writing, Willa Cather Studies


2-2:30: Phillips Phillips B-120 
3-4:30 PM: Myers Room, GW's Textile Museum  
Full information on today's events can be found here.

As an added bonus, Professor Romines's collection of 19th Century American quilts are on display in the Textile Museum, along with her descriptions accounting for their historical significance.



“Drunkard’s Path” (Left of Photo)
This quilt was probably made in the late 19th century, in the Missouri Ozarks, where I grew up.  I bought it there as a gift for my mother (who was not a drunkard).

“House” (Center)
I had long wanted a house quilt, ever since I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books as a girl, and eventually wrote a book about them. This is a late 19th century Virginia quilt, which I bought in Fauquier County.

“Trip Around the World” (Right)
Such quilts, pieced of small squares, were often called “postage stamp quilts.”  This one was bought by a dealer at an estate auction in Grinnell, Iowa. It was probably made in the 1930’s, since the fabrics (which were often saved for years) seem to come from the twenties and thirties. It contains more than 10,000 pieces. I bought the quilt in West Branch, Iowa, when I was doing research there at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library for my Wilder book.



“Sixteen Patch” or “Mosaic” (Top Right of Photo)
The pattern of simple squares is similar to the “Nine Patch” which was the first quilting project of many young girls. Some of the patterns in these fabrics might have appealed to a child, especially the dogs and the moss roses (a very popular 19th C. pattern). Signed in one corner with initials of maker and/or owner. Willa Cather was very proud of the simple quilts she pieced as a child, in similar simple patterns. The “old women” of the community, far more skilled needlewomen, quilted those quilts.  Notice that the quilting in this quilt, in a “pumpkin seed” pattern, is far more elaborate than the simple pieced pattern. The quilt came from a family in the countryside just west of Winchester, Virginia, near the West Virginia line.  This was the area where Willa Cather was born and spent her first nine years, and where she set her last novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl.

“Friendship Quilt” (Center)
There are three possible names for this pattern: “Friendship Knot,” “Starry Crown,” and “All Hands Around.”  Women embroidered their names of the blocks and the quilt became a gift for a friend, often someone who was moving far away. This quilt was made circa 1861. It belonged to a New England family that moved to Virginia, and I bought it in Alexandria in 1985.

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