#30 Civil War Quilts

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a traveling exhibit, currently at the New York Historical Society, explores how quilts, flags, and other sewn goods communicated the wartime experience. In this episode, curators Lynne Bassett and Margi Hofer discuss how cotton and textiles played a powerful part in the conflict, and how women’s work supported the war effort and eventually helped propel the suffrage movement.

Following the New-York Historical Society presentation, which runs through August 24th, 2014, Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War will travel to the Shelburne Museum, in Shelburne, VT, from September 20, 2014 – January 1, 2015; and then to the Nebraska State Historical Society, in Lincoln, NE, From February 1 – June 30, 2015.

Happy listening!

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Outro music: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” sung by Odetta

Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the show. Thanks to the New York Historical Society for these beautiful images:

2-8  Quilt, botanical

An intricate applique quilt made just before the American Civil War

IQSC quilt

The “Reconciliation Quilt” made by Lucinda Ward Honstain, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1867. Check out Slate’s interesting piece on this sampler quilt. 

First White House quilt

Kinzle quilt

Rokeby Museum dress

A Quaker dress made of Free Labor fabric.


  1. Lynne Bassett

    Thank you, Christine, for producing this podcast! It was a pleasure to speak with you! I’d like to be sure that listeners understand that the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, was the organizer of this exhibition, and that Madelyn Shaw and I co-curated it. Our catalog, Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War–which won a bronze medal in history from the Independent Publishers Book Awards– is available from the gift shop of the New-York Historical Society or the American Textile History Museum. Thank you again for helping us to get the word out about this exhibition. We really appreciate your interest!

  2. The floral appliqué is from the collection of the Virginia Quilt Museum, and was loaned for the traveling exhibition. A pattern to make the quilt is available from the museum and is being done as a sew along 2015-2016. http://svbotanicalquilt.blogspot.com

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