Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Remembering Adelia was more than a book to me

Oh it is a busy time of year! I hope you too are enjoying the myriad delights of the holiday season. I do more and more each year. I think it's because I value my family and my friendships, new and old, more deeply than I did when I was younger. I love giving gifts, cards, and coming together for parties and meditations for the new year.

I was drawn to Kathleen Tracy's book "Remembering Adelia" the first time I saw it. In glancing over it I saw that  it was a book of small quilts with patterns and diary entries written by a young woman named Adelia, set in mid-19th century.  I set it aside to read nearly a year ago. During a recent rain storm
I read the book.  It's an easy cozy read in one sitting. The diary narrative of Adelia Thomas is real. She was  a young woman living in the year 1861 in northern Illinois.

My eyes lit up and my jaw dropped by what I discovered!! I grew up and still have dear friends in the same towns  Adelia writes about in her diary. There are also original photographs of the countryside, houses and people living  there in the later part of that century.

It's unique  for this to happen when I'm reading a quilt history book. These are not historically important places today or then. I was born in Minneapolis and raised in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago until I left for collage after high school and to live out west.

Adelia lived in the town of Woodstock, IL, which I have only visited a few times, but it is the other towns that she and her family visited frequently that were my stomping grounds and may be yours too: Des Plaines, Algonquin, Elgin, St. Charles,  Chicago's Michigan Avenue and State Street, and Park Ridge, where she raised her own family years later. Oh the memories!  Dear friends and family are still there  and new memories are made there because of their children growing up in the same towns.

Although the year of diary entires is during the start of the Civil War as Adelia's male friends and family were leaving for military duty and there was change and sadness in her life, the book was a joy to read for me and I think you would also enjoy it if you like diaries of 19th century women who quilt!!

The quilts Kathleen shows are scrappy style made from reproduction fabrics. She picked patterns with significance to the time period.  The quilts are adorable ranging from doll to lap size with fourteen patchwork and two applique quilt patterns and housewif and journal cover patterns.

This is a pattern and story book of historical relevance a beginner would enjoy as much as the more advanced  quilt history enthusiast. I think it would be a lovely gift for a friend, daughter, or yourself, OR for someone who lives in Illinois.

I know there are other diary inspired quilt books with patterns, including Kathleen's first book on Prairie children quilts. If you have a favorite, please tell us about it, the title, author and what you liked about it, or what made it stand out for you. I'd like to have a list handy and I'm thinking some of you would too.

Please post your comment on the blog by clicking here http://www.quiltersspirit.blogspot.com/  and scrolling down to the comments box, or clicking on the word comments. You can read about others favorite diary books there too.

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Sue said...

Oh I love this book too. If you read my blog
http://isewquiltsuk.blogspot.com. You will see on February 2010 I wrote about Remembering Adelia and how I felt a little a kin to her.

Kimberly Wulfert, PhD said...

HI Sue- Would you please post the exact link to your Feb. post on Adelia? The link you offered is to the current page. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Sue said...


Hi Kimberly this is the link. Enjoy.

Donna in SW PA said...

The Coffin Quilt by Ann Rinaldi was like that for me as part of her life was in the area that I live (Greene County,PA) As with your book I recognize family names, farms and buildings mentioned.

Kathleen Tracy said...

Hi Kimberly - Thank you so much for your kind words. You may not know this but I have been a fan of yours since my first book, American Doll Quilts (2004), and I listed your site in the Bibliography.

Adelia actually lived in Cary Station, IL which is now known as simply Cary. I live 25 miles or so away from there and after I wrote the book I met a woman who was interested in local history and she took me to the area where Adelia's family's farm may have been located. The train station and schoolhouse still stand and I got goosebumps while walking in Adelia's footsteps. I wrote about it on my blog if you are interested:

Keep up the good work! -Kathy

Kimberly Wulfert, PhD said...

Hi Kathleen! What fun to hear more about Adelia and your experience. I know Cary better than Woodstock. How exciting it is to visit places that have become familiar to you through research and intimacy gained after the person has passed over.
Synchronicity is at work again, leading you and the local historian to meet.
You will laugh, but I thought about writing an American Girls of past times book of quilts, until I saw someone had beat me to it. I didn't realize until now that that woman was you. It was a great idea. Thank you for commenting Kathleen. I'm looking forward to your next book...

Kathleen Tracy said...

I think you should still write that book - there's room for more! We all love children's quilts and doll quilts so much that I know it would be a big hit.

marian said...

what a lovely tribute, Kimberly! and what a thrill to discover that you also live in the region that Adelia and her family lived in..i'm just a tad envious lol!
i also own a copy of this book and was engrossed while reading Adelia's diary entries. now i'm really looking forward to Kathy's next book :)
cheers, Marian

The Quilted Finish ph 02 63310084 said...

I recently finished the quilt on the cover of Remembering Adelia and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I also enjoyed reading the diary entries so much I took it to my Mother and read it aloud to her. My Mum is not a quilter or sewer but found the diary as fascinating as I did. Your review certainly does this wonderful book great justice.
Enjoy the holidays. Rowena

Kimberly Wulfert, PhD said...

Thank you all for your great input- I love hearing how the book touched you too. It's inspiring to hear from women across the pond who have the same sense of connectedness as I did reading it. Sue- (or should I call you Ms. Bennett)your reproduction of the book's cover quilt is wonderful, check it out using Sue's link to her blog post in the comment above) And Kathy's blog post about researching Adelia in person is full of original photos of the area and her personal experiences meeting with historians in Il. She provided a link in her comment above. Keep the thread going as you wish. My great joy back to you, Kim

Starwood Quilter said...

My grandmother kept a detailed, 400 page diary in 1916, the year she turned 21. I paired diary entries with appropriately named quilt blocks to create my Farmer's Daughter Quilt. You might enjoy reading my blog: www.starwoodquilter.blogspot.com.

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