Wednesday, July 24, 2019

QuiltSpeak at the North Carolina Museum of History

Eula May Bagwell Jones, 1902-1903
Wake County, North Carolina
North Carolina Museum of History

Eula May's lone star quilt is one of the North Carolina quilts featured in the current exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History, which is up in Raleigh until March of 2020.

Chintz panel quilt attributed to Ann Eliza Shipp Bynum,
about 1845

One of the chintz panels trimmed & appliqued in the quilt above.

Curator of Cultural History Diana Bell-Kite organized the show of quilts from the Museum's collection. (Isn't that a great title---Curator of Cultural History?) Being situated in North Carolina they have a fabulous collection ranging from chintz elegance through circa-1900, regional fashions to one-of-a-kind visions.

Heavenly Vision by Margaret Eller Maxwell (1867-1957)

Elizabeth Jennie Roach Witherington & Lydia Chapman Roach

Typical North Carolina fabrics from the end of the 19th century in an atypical Mariner's Compass based on 5 divisions.

Regional pattern: Cotton Boll or(Anthemion)

The graphics are clever with the stitched words 

Laurel Horton wrote the catalog foreward summarizing the theme:
"QuiltSpeak rides the wave of some 40 years of quilt scholarship---not the old competitive status-conscious model of scholarship that largely excluded women and their work. Instead, this is scholarship as designed by women, based on women's cultural values...."

Jennifer at Curlicue Creations saw the show and posted some photos:

The QuiltSpeak catalog is available for $20 at the museum's shop:

And if you are planning to take a road trip you might consider going at the end of September when the curators plan a bed-turning format to show some quilts they couldn't exhibit due to condition issues. Buy your ticket soon.

September 28, 2019: Bed Turning: Diana Bell-Kite, Curator of Cultural History & Paige Myers, Textile Conservator, will show you unusual and fragile quilts from the museum collection not in the display. Register here:


  1. Looks like a great exhibit. But I do wonder what "women's cultural values" means. We all like pink? Historic quilts may reveal how an individual woman's values departed from cultural norms, and certainly not all women shared the same values. One might imagine that a wealthy white woman and an enslaved woman might have very different experiences, and their quilts help us to better understand those differences.

  2. Good morning, Barbara, I so enjoy these collections of intellectual, historical, visual and emotional intrigue and entertainment from you ... my morning emails are made infinitely more interesting by your posts ... and, I found myself transfixed and fascinated by the quilt shown below the five-division Mariner's Compass ... the "plus sign" quilt --- it took me a while to figure out why I was fixated on it (I'd only had a couple sips of caffeine at that point, which could have contributed to my partial stasis) (smiles), but finally realized that, while the blocks are 'sashed' with the lightening stripes across, there are no cornerstones to the sashing, making the lightening 'sashing' into rows, rather than sashing ... now, I did confess that I'm low on caffeine at this point, but, really, this strikes me as rather remarkable. Smiles, and wishing you much joyful historical investigations ...