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Book Review by Kimberly Wulfert, PhD

Home and Country Early
Nineteenth Century Quilts in the DAR Museum
Review  by Kimberly Wulfert, PhD

Home and Country Early Nineteenth Century Quilts in the DAR Museum
written by Alden O'Brien,
Curator of Costume and Textiles

A New Catalogue of Quilts from the Collection of Daughter's of the American Revolution Museum in Washington D.C.

Here is a chance for you to see and read about fourteen wonderful early quilts and bedcovers that were on exhibit at the museum through to April 30, 2005. The DAR seldom puts their quilts into print, but they have quilts are on display at the museum regularly.* This exhibit also included samplers.

Alden discusses the theme in her introduction to the catalogue: "The motto chosen in 1890 by the newly-formed Daughters of the American Revolution, 'Home and Country' ('God, Home and Country' became the motto in 1978), can be used to summarize the lives and experiences of most American women of the nineteenth century. The childhoods of most gently-born girls were spent in learning the skills and arts necessary to make a happy home, and to raise sons and daughters to be good citizens of the republic. In this exhibition, we selected quilts from the DAR Museum collection that share a vocabulary of decorative motifs and devices that can be loosely categorized as celebrating home, country, or both. Some symbols are overtly patriotic, such as the flag, or the eagle. Other motifs, such as vines, sheaves of wheat, cornucopia, and baskets of fruit and flowers can be seen to symbolize the bounty of America or the fertility of home. All, as seen here, demonstrate the taste and skill of the needlewomen who produced these decorative objects."

In this special edition version of the "gallery guide," written for the viewer at home, 14 rarely seen bedcovers were chosen to discuss in detail, including the techniques used, the makers history, prior exhibitions, and a discussion of the derivations of designs and symbolism of motifs found on the quilts. Text references and a bibliography are included with each quilt, which researchers and beginners will appreciate - Thanks Alden!

Appliqué, whitework, pieced and broderie perse quilts are shown in color with some detail shots included. Some of the whitework quilts are backlit to show the motif better and others are detail shots that show the raised motifs. Photos of the maker or previous owners are included when available. The catalogue is published by Alden and her staff, using desk-top publishing on non-glossy 8.5" X 11" paper in a spiral binding of 49 pages. It is nicely done and presented and well worth the price, all of which goes to help further the museum's collections.

To purchase your copy email nagman@dar.org, Nicole Agman is in their gift shop and she will process your order. The catalogue cost only $12.00. plus $2.00 for shipping for the 1st copy, USPS; for more than one copy shipping is by UPS at $5.95 for the first $25.00; $6.95 up to $4.00 0; $7.95 up to $75.00. International shipping available-ask about the cost. They take Visa, MC, Amex, Discover.

There is also a calendar made for DAR members with DAR-related dates on it, which features their quilts. Some of the quilts are detail shots and some are shown on beds in their period rooms; most are not shown full-view/head-on. It is $10/copy.

Contact: nagman@dar.org, or call 202-879-3208 (M-F 9:30-4/Sat 9-5 EST).

It may not be as good as having seen the exhibit in person, but it is a view you cannot get anywhere else. Thank you Alden and your staff for putting this together to share with us.

*Twice a year they rotate eight quilts and two more are on beds in the period rooms. Be sure to call ahead to plan the day of your visit, as Alden informs me they are closed on major and minor holidays, snow days, inauguration day, between exhibits and during their annual July meetings. Call or check their website so you won't be disappointed or surprised. I was there between exhibits, and missed seeing their quilts, but still enjoyed the museum and gift shop.

Book publishers and authors: if you would like your book reviewed on this Website, and it falls within the scope of topics, please contact me.


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© 2004 - 2016 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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