Friday, November 14, 2014

A Red and White Fundraiser or Two

This is my red and white fundraising quilt.  These signatures quilt were popular in the second half of the 19th century. 

To get your name embroidered on the quilt each person would pay 10 cents and the finished quilt would be raffled to make further funds.  This type of quilt was used to support the temperance movement, the abolition of slavery and for both sides in the American Civil War.  Later on the Red Cross groups around the world would raise funds during World War I by making a quilt, and church groups would continue the practice between the wars.

I bought this quilt online.  It had no provenance, I bought it from a dealer in Pennsylvania but had no date and no location.  There are over 400 names on the quilt so I started putting a few into  I found that the common element for many names was the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown, Western Pennsylvania.  I had the place, now I needed a date.  Using again I searched for the women on the quilt, checked whether their surname was a maiden name or married name, then looked for the date on their marriage certificate.  The names were put on the quilt between 1934 and 1937.

I take this quilt along when I am giving a presentation on signature quilts.  I was showing it to a group of Country Women's Association ladies a few months ago.  One woman said quite matter-of-factly, our museum had one just like it.

If we had been in the USA this comment would not have created any interest.  I am sure that most American historical museums have one or two or more quilts in their collection.  But historic quilts in Australia are scarce as hen's teeth and I had to find out more.  I interrupted my presentation to ask when the opening hours were for the museum and I paid a visit the following week.

Without a doubt, a red and white signature quilt.  The quilt was a 1918 fund raiser for the Stratford (Victoria) Methodist Church.  The quilt was covered by a plastic sheet which created some issues for my flash.  A number of women with differing levels of proficiency did the embroidery.

The quilt was found in 1999 in a shed in Seaspray, a little town about 40 kilometres from Stratford.  It was returned to the Stratford Historical Museum .... which happens to be in the old Methodist Church.  Happy Ending!

1 comment:

  1. What a smart way to get people to participate in a fundraiser. The people who thought of that idea are very creative. To think that it would be a popular tradition even to this day. At any rate, that's a beautiful quilt, Sharon! I'm sure a lot of your friends would love to have their name sewed into it. Thanks for sharing that! All the best to you!

    Norman Watkins @ eBay Giving Works


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