By: Tracy W. Barron
An album quilt made in 1847 for Mary Susan Rice by the Female Missionary Sewing Circle of Lincoln, Massachusetts, reveals a story as involved as the quilt’s construction. Beyond the remarkable fact that the quilt traveled to Persia and back, the quilt has an interesting history. Using unpublished journals, letters, and town records the author shows how a seemingly straightforward album quilt has a complex contextual design. A detailed analysis of the inscriptions and their relative positions on the quilt revealed facts about the owner, the donors, a pioneering educator, an unusual educational institution, and certain nineteenth-century religious beliefs. Analysis of Rice’s album quilt also revealed characteristics it has in common with other album quilts made in New England in the fourth and fifth decades of the nineteenth century.