Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Signature Quilts - a Canadian Family History record

 Especially cool!  Imagine seeing your ancestor's name along with many of
their friends and neighbours on a bed throw or quilt. 

My daughter's first quilting attempt
This intriguing story about a PEI Signature Quilt discovered in Reading, Wiltshire, UK appeared in my social media feed. Even though I don't have any ancestors in PEI that I know of, I was given a very special quilt that my grandmother made, so I just had to investigate this genealogical story.  

Mark Golden, of Reading, U.K., reported (CBC article) that his mom bought the PEI quilt in the 1960s from a charity shop. ​ Some of the names on the quilt: Lois MacINNIS St. Lawrence, P.E.I.; Robert MacINNIS St. Lawrence, P.E.I.; Sandra MacINNIS St. Lawrence, P.E.I.; Loretta VAIL, Ch'town, P.E.I.; Bill RIX, Ch'town, (Charlottetown) P.E.I.

Linda Berko, the curator of collections and conservator at the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation explained the purpose of signature quilts. Names were embroidered into squares, later sewn into a quilt and were auctioned off to raise money for a special cause, often a church event.

There were lots of results on the internet when I used these terms: Autograph Quilts; Signature Quilts; Friendship Quilts. When doing this kind of research, remember to concentrate your research on women as they most likely organized and stitched these events!

This post provides links to other sites about signature quilts, Canadian, U.S. and United Kingdom.

Freetown United Church - P.E.I. - displayed a signature quilt on one Sunday in November 2017. It is owned by the DEWAR family and was created in 1928 to raise funds for a mission group within the church.

Uxbridge Historical Centre - Ontario -this leads to an events page

Mary Grahams Redwork Signature Quilt - Ontario - Mary Grahams was a Nursing Sister who served in the First World War. The Elmvale Womens Institute sent her this quilt.

Elgin County Museum Signature Quilts Ontario - quilts from all time periods, various areas in Elgin County :  Dutton Methodist Church Quilt, 1890 ; Minnie Williams Quilt, 1917; St. Thomas Central United Church Quilt, 1919; St. Thomas First United Church Quilt, 1925-30; Frome United Church Quilt, 1969.

Rural Women Studies Friendship Quilt - the Braemar Women’s Institute Autograph Quilt and the Wolverton Red Cross Quilt - Ontario 
Women's Institute Quilt - Ontario - Women's Institute of Niagara created in support of the First World War. It was completed in 1917 and raised $150 for the Red Cross. From the website: "Cotton squares measuring 8 by 8 inches were sold for $16, and a maximum of 16 people signed their names on each one. Members of the Women’s Institute then sewed over the signatures in red thread. There are 80 squares on the quilt with 69 signatures.

University of Alberta Home Economics department are creating a Signature Quilt to celebrate 100 years 1918-2018. Sign your square and donate before May 10, 2018 in order to make it ready for the event in September 2018.

Edmonton & District Historical Society - Threads of Life - the 1917 Waskatenau Signature Quilt - only an announcement about a meeting in 2015 - but would be nice to hear the story! 

United States
America's Quilting History   - a page about quilting with a history of Friendship Quilting

Flexner Family Names on a Signature Quilt - Iowa - a genealogical story

Master Builder of Quilted Trees - a quilter and a genealogist - perfect combination!

Quilt Index

Welsh Heritage Project  -  a quilt with hundreds of names! (society: Welsh pioneers on the prairies of the U.S.)

Josephine's Journal - Friendship Quilt - literally hundreds more names! Josephine's Journal has an interesting story which you will find on the main page. It is a newspaper column from the Overton County News in Livingston, Tennessee. What is even more amazing is that each article is reproduced on these pages without credit to the author and without dates! However, a fabulous snapshot into the stories of people who live in this community.

United Kingdom
York Press article about the York Museum signature quilts - "Exhibition highlights include the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet which is the oldest signed and dated patchwork in Britain."

Quilt Museum, York - made in 2013 ; made as a fundraiser for the Quilt Museum, during their exhibition 'It's all in the Making'. A current piece of family history!

A Pinterest Quilting page 
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The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy by Christina K. Schaefer. pub. 1999 Genealogical Pub. Co. -a resource for researching Women's Genealogy

Remember Me: Women and Their Friendship Quilts - a book written by Linda Otto Lipsett.

My grandmother made a special quilt, now very fragile, with hand stitched squares made from pieces of clothing worn by members of the family. Unfortunately I don't know if this was made specifically as a memento or as a bed cover but it's still a family treasure.

Is there a signature quilt in your family?

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