Reveals the hardship and risk settlers undertook to forge new communities out West, and the joy and pride quiltmakers brought to this time-honoured craft.
Often called the great corridor of America’s westward expansion, in the 19th century the Great Platte River Road carried wagon trains and settlers through Nebraska Territory to points farther west. Starting in the 1840s, three of the major trails to the western United States—the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and the California Trail—paralleled each other along the river and converged in the valley of the Platte. In jumping-off places such as Omaha and along the Missouri River, settlers from the East Coast as well as immigrants from Europe packed wagons with the essentials for the long journey. And often tucked among the essentials were quilts for bedding, cherished reminders of home and loved ones, stitched with care.
Going West! Quilts and Community, produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, presents more than 50 quilts, brought to or made in Nebraska in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Embellished with flowers, stars, wagon wheels, dazzling mosaics, even signatures, the quilts reveal the extraordinary creativity of the individuals who made them. Roderick Kiracofe gives an overview of quilt making traditions, while Sandi Fox provides commentaries on individual pieces, using diaries, journal entries, and newspaper accounts to contextualize a quilt’s owner or maker, or the period in which the quilt was created.
Roderick Kiracofe is the author of the critically acclaimed The American Quilt: A History of Cloth & Comfort (1993, 2004) and Cloth & Comfort: Pieces of Women’s Lives from Their Quilts and Diaries (1994). He co-founded The Quilt Digest; produced Homage to Amanda: 200 Years of American Quilts; and was a regular participant on the PBS series The Great American Quilt (one of PBS’ most popular).
Sandi Fox is former curator of quilts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, associate fellow at the International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska, and research associate, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She is the author of numerous articles, books, and exhibition catalogues, including Quilts: California Bound, California Made 1840–1940 (2002), and Wrapped in Glory: Figurative Quilts & Bedcovers 1700–1900 (1990).
Table of contents
- Foreword by Elizabeth Broun
- Introduction by Roderick Kiracofe