By: Linda Welters and Margaret Ordonez
This paper investigates calico printing in Rhode Island during the 1820s and 1830s through a single scrap quilt made from printers’ trials. Using a material culture approach, the quilt and its fabrics are described, compared to fabric swatch books and extant dyers’ sample books, and compared to other quilts in the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project Archives. The paper incorporates the history of the first two decades of industrial calico printing in Rhode Island to place the quilt in context. The authors propose that the calicoes in the quilt represent the work of a Rhode Island calico print works in the mid to late 1830s, just a decade after William Sprague opened Rhode Island’s first print works in Cranston.