Thursday, March 30, 2023

Making the Bed


Library of Congress
Couple photographed about 1940 in Hamilton County, Ohio near
Cincinnati by Carl Mydans for the Farm Security Administration 

I grew up in Cincinnati and this is housekeeping my mother would have been horrified to see. We were, as she told us, "Lace-Curtain Irish." Many of us grew up in middle class homes with bedmaking dictated by the arbiters of good housekeeping.

As in this ad in Good Housekeeping magazine for new fitted sheets, 1950s.

Our perspective on proper bedroom interiors is one reason it is so hard for us to understand why so many quilts looked like this:

Whether plain or fancy...

From Georgia Quilts

To give you a crash course in bedmaking alternative styles I've found photos from the Library of Congress's files for the Farm Security Administration taken in the late 1930s. They are mostly by Russell Lee who had a good eye for interior details and seemed to like to photograph quilts while telling us of the needs of poor America.

Ingram Family, Alvin, Wisconsin, 1937
Russell Lee captioned this room as in a shack shared
by two poor families.

1937, Russell Lee, Corpus Christi, Texas

Bed as office. I do a lot of that. Dog instead of baby as assistant.

1939, Russell Lee, Waggoner, Oklahoma

1938, Russell Lee, New Madrid County, Missouri

Russell Lee, Crystal City, Texas

1939, Russell Lee, Sallislaw, Oklahoma
A Trundle Bed

1937, Arthur Rothstein, Allegheny County, New York
Bed with side slats

1941, Jack Delano, Greensboro, Alabama

Ringgold, Arkansas

If we want to understand quilt history we have to understand their function as bedding, considering that different housing styles create a need for different quilt style.

Dick Sheldon, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 

I'm trying not to be so bourgeois. Need a wider world view.

A little history:

1 comment:

  1. Amazing photographs (as usual). Should make us all aware of the wealth that we enjoy.