By: Laurel Horton
One of the major tasks of present-day quilt historians is the examination of generally accepted assumptions about American quiltmaking traditions. Where I live, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, that study is complicated and obscured by widely believed and exaggerated romantic notions of mountain life generally. As with most stereotypes these are based on some truths, but the problem is that they obscure other truths which reflect the real variety of experience within mountain culture.
These stereotypes prevent us from seeing the wide diversity that has always been a part of Appalachian life. The new field of Appalachian Studies has encouraged dozens of scholars to produce volumes examining the myths and realities of Southern mountain history and culture. For my part in this work I have chosen to study quilts made in one North Carolina mountain county prior to the crafts revival of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the changing ranges of fabrics available to quiltmakers.