Monday, December 31, 2007

Suffrage quilts

Chris posted this question after viewing the Lindbergh redwork quilt (See Nov. 2007 for photos)

Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt? Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt?

I have casually looked into the use of quilts in women's rights and Temperance movements. WTCU, Women's Christian Temperance Movement, began in the 1870s during the Reconstruction period, after the suffrage movement was well under way. And there was a suffrage movement for the equal rights of African Americans, which culminated in the 15th amendment ratified in 1870, which stated that a man could not be prevented from voting because of their race, color or previous condition of servitude. The feminists were disappointed their rights were not included in this amendment.

Quilts did not seem to play a role within the women's suffrage organization, as in fundraising or raising awareness, however Susan B. Anthony chose to make her first speech at a quilting bee! The suffrage movement began in the 1840's which is somewhat before women were quick to turn their quilt making into fundraisers. In the middle to end of the century more quilts were made to reflect political and social causes and to raise funds, especially for the CW. The women's right to vote came around 1920 and I am not aware of any historical quilt made public that reflects this. I hope someone will post of they know of such quilts!

It's an interesting state of affairs, that women would not turn more to their needle and thread for their own fight. Perhaps it was the very fact that sewing was considered a women's job or role in the 19th century anyway, that made her turn away from engaging in that role to stand on a new ground as a equal and viable citizen.

Signature quilts were made for the WTCU from the beginning to serve as endorsements for the cause. Patchwork quilts were made in the shape of T's, drinking goblets, and the curved drunkard's path block seen in a variety of formations. The White Ribbon was the logo for lack of a better word for WTCU, and so it too was made into a pieced block. Fundraising quilts and "Chapter" quilts were made and signed by regional chapters of the national WTCU starting in the 19th century. I have a very large, approx. 20"x 20" WTCU commemorative handkerchief depicting a map of the US (in orange ink on a white ground) marking all the places Frances E. Willard, the most important leader of the org., spoke for the cause. Around the edges are line drawings of her home and buildings where she spent time.

For more information about a Temperance quilt made near the end of prohibition, see AQSG's journals "Uncoverings 2003" for a paper by Sarah Rose Dangelas, The Cultural significance of the Block Island Woman's Christian Temperance Union Quilt of 1931.

Thank you for your question. Please feel free to post any information you have about this.

Piece, Kim

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Your comments, questions and answers are welcome! It may take a little while for them to show on my blog - I like to see them first. Thanks for sharing.