By: Merikay Waldvogel
This paper focuses on the collecting habits of Mildred Dickerson of Birmingham, Alabama and her interaction with dozens of quilt pattern collectors throughout the United States. Expanding on an aunt’s small collection, Dickerson, at the midpoint of her life, embarked on an ambitious quest to collect all known quilt patterns. Out of necessity, collectors like Dickerson reached out to others for help in amassing patterns. Dickerson’s correspondence is particularly revealing of the workings of quilt pattern round robins. The final collection, acquired by the author in 1992, included complete (or nearly complete) sets of most quilt pattern lines printed in the United States as well as magazine articles, newspaper clippings, catalogs, and books pertaining to quilts published between 1900 and 1990. By studying Dickerson’s collection, one gains insight into the motivations, goals, and methods of quilt pattern collectors of the 1960s and 1970s, an era before quilt guilds, exhibits, and publications provided easy access to new patterns.