By: Elizabeth Weyrauch Shea and Patricia Cox Crews
Data on 784 quiltmakers representing 1593 quilts made before 1940 were collected during 18 Nebraska Quilt History Days. Information garnered from questionnaires and oral interviews were used to develop a demographic profile of Nebraska quiltmakers. Analysis and interpretation of the data yielded insights into their motivations for quiltmaking and quiltmaking practices. Most quiltmakers were Nebraska-born, rural homemakers for whom quiltmaking was a lifetime activity. The majority had a grade school education, were of German descent and had a Methodist religious affiliation. Most quilted for personal satisfaction rather than for economic reasons of for family needs. This finding supports recent scholarship that has argued that scarcity of fabrics and bedding was not the major impetus for quiltmaking which is a time consuming activity. In general Nebraska quiltmakers are representative of the population of the state demographically, reflective of women of the period socially, and typically of quiltmakers in their motivations and quiltmaking practices.