By: Lynn A. Bonfield
Using quotes from approximately thirty diaries, I will make an analysis of quilting in rural and urban homes before the sewing machine entered the market in the 1850’s and 60’s. This is an expansion of my 1981 article although I will include only dairies and will discuss only quilting quotes rather than the complete field of sewing.
In reading diaries from 1780 to 1860, I have noted all quotes relating to quilting, quilts, and quilters. I have classified each diarist as rural or urban; rated the economic status of each according to number of helpers with household chores; noted age, number in household, and occupation of husband or father. Also I am analyzing the context and content of the quote. The paper will deal with the purpose of quilting, whether alone or with others, description of the others, place where quilting occurred, season when quilting was done, and number of times per year the subject is noted.
First of all, being an archivist, I hope to quote the mention of quilting so that other researchers can use that information and not have to search out the diaries or figure out the handwriting. Secondly, I will make some generalizations about how quilting fit into the lives of these people; whether it was done alone or in groups; whether it was more prevalent in rural or urban household, when quilters were single or married when servants helped with chores or not, when relatives were present or not, and other information I can suggest.
The stories of some diarists will be told in detail so that their quilting can be better understood. When possible these stories will represent a group of similar-circumstanced women.