By: Laurann Gilbertson
Immigrants from Norway settled in large numbers in the Midwestern United States during the mid-nineteenth through early twentieth centuries. Many of these immigrants came from rural areas and may not have been familiar with piecework quilts before arriving in America. This study explores the history of Norwegian-American quiltmaking in the Midwest before 1930. Sources include diaries, letters, memoirs, and the histories of quilts in museum collections. This paper describes the materials and techniques Norwegian immigrants and their descendants used for making quilts; the transmission of quiltmaking information, in particular Ladies Aid and Norwegian-language periodicals; and the reasons for quiltmaking among these immigrants. Norwegian-American quilts most closely followed American traditions, though some subtle ethnic features suggest a small degree of cultural retention.