By: Sarah Rose Dangelas
The early 1930s marked an important lime for temperance advocates as the threat of the repeal of the Prohibition amendment to the United States Constitution loomed large. In this volatile era, the small community on Block Island, Rhode Island, boasted an active and determined local chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1931, the women of this chapter created a signature quilt to memorialize their continued efforts to combat intemperance.
This study focuses on the Block Island Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Quilt of 1931 in an attempt to frame it in the stories of the WCTU and of quilting in the United States. It discusses the quilt’s connection to women’s clubs’ use of “decorations” at fairs, its relationship to fundraising quilts, and its political and memorial intentions. It also examines the role of Lucretia Mott Ball, who founded the Block Island chapter in 1894 and presided over it until her death in 1941, in the creation of the quilt and the amassing of over 450 embroidered signatures. The quilt, today, stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication of Ball and the other women of