Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quaker Album Quilts

A pretty block in an album dated 1843 in the collection of Conner Prairie Museum in Indiana. I noticed it because of the brown & white excentric print. It's signed by Ella Maria Deacon.

Quaker Album or Friendship Quilt
Burlington County, New Jersey, 1843
Collection of Conner Prairie Museum
108 x 110 inches
72 patchwork blocks

Ella's block is on the top row right of center in this overall view.

Wait a minute! I know Ella Maria Deacon.
Not personally. But she has a quilt in Chicago.

Quilt Made for Ella Maria Deacon (American, 1811–1894)
104 1/8 x 107 3/8 inches
Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
85 patchwork blocks from New Jersey: Rancocas, Eversham, Springfield and Mt. Holly. It's actually dated 1841 and 1842.

See more in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association

NJ Project
For a while I thought there were two Quaker quilts with alternate chintz squares, 
but now I realize that the Conner Prairie quilt is also pictured in the
Quilt Index, New Jersey project. These two are the same quilt with different lighting.

Conner Prairie's
Do look at this Indiana web site and notice the details listed on the right.

 But then there are many similar quilts.
Here's one quilt from the New Jersey project & the Quilt Index.

The names on this quilt: 
Budd, Coles and Deacon families.  Two dates: 1844 & 1855.

New Jersey Project

Quaker quilt from Swedesboro, Gloucester County, NJ

The quilts share a lot of design characteristics. 
As the authors of the New Jersey project book describe the style: 

The familiar New Jersey sampler with blocks set on the diagonal and use of strip sashing.
Other characteristics:
  • Variety of block techniques, some pieced, some appliqued in conventional applique, some in cut-out-chintz.
  • Blocks contain some classic applique patterns but many are unusual one-time designs.
  • Use of primary colored calicoes: Turkey red, chrome yellow, greens in blocks (if not in setting)

Block from the Conner Prairie quilt.
  • Many of the blocks whether pieced or appliqued are based on a circular format, with a focus on the center of the block, like a wheel or a wreath.. In other words: the designs don't really fill a square block the way classic red & green applique blocks do.
Detail of Charlotte Gillingham's quilt, 1842-1843, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

One of the few familiar classics from the Gillingham quilt.
Oak leaf and Reel variation.

Sarah Pidgeon's Album.
Collection of Colonial Williamsburg.
I wonder how many more of these Quaker Album quilt from
the early 1840s have duplicate signers
and duplicate odd blocks.

A question the researchers at the Quaker Quilt History blog are working on.

Burtis Family Quilt at the Burlington NJ Historical Society

Quilt for Charlotte Gillingham, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

There are many fascinating things about these early Quaker quilts.
One is the early emphasis on red, yellow and green.
Two is the originality and variety of the blocks.
Three: Can we thank Quakers for the American sampler album?

I noticed two blocks like Ella M Deacon's in the Conner Prairie Quilt.

And here's the same block in the Ella Maria Deacon quilt at the Art Institute.


  1. So interesting. I just put the book on hold t my library.

  2. Wonderful post, Barbara! I remember when the photo of that dark chintz alternate block quilt arrived via HQPNJ's mail-in registration. We were blown away! Wished we could have seen that quilt in person. What a great discovery! I wonder how it got to the Conner Prairie Museum. Very happy to hear it has a good home :)

  3. Great post, Barbara, with personal interest. My husband's Hilyards were among the first Quakers to settle in southern New Jersey (1690's).
    To reply to the other Barbara's comment: Quakers emigrated to southern Indiana (Earlham College in Richmond, IN, is Quaker). Jessamyn West's book "The Friendly Persuasion," is about Indiana Quakers.

  4. These are among the most gorgeous of all antique quilts, in my opinion. Notice that perfect green that hasn't faded or bled? That same fast, well-dyed green is in Anna Catharine Hummel Markey Garnhart's quilts, which probably also date to the 1840's. I believe it is an expensive English steam dyed fabric. I've rarely seen it in American quilts.

  5. I've been doing a lot of Geneaology research lately and I have Quaker families on both my parents lines as well as my husbands. I'd love to see a list of all the names on these lovelies. I had no idea they made such colorful quilts.