African American Quilts: Brief article about the history of African American women in quilting. Some clickable links.
African American Quilting Traditions: Many quilts are shown, including a picture of a loom house used by slaves on the Melrose Plantation. Weakness of the site is its perpetuation of stereotypical views of quilting by African Americans
Southern Quilting Traditions – On another page of this site, a “Star of Bethlehem” quilt made in the so-called “African-American tradition” is contrasted with one created in the “European-American” tradition.
Artifacts We Don’t Dig Up: As part of a lesson plan, this site has images of quilts made by: Phyllis, a slave imported from the Congo in 1818; Francis and Evelynn, two slaves belonging to Cynthia Evelyn Bush; “Yellow Bill”, a male slave belonging to William Dean of New Orleans; Johanna Davis between 1845 and 1853, she may have been an artisan and not a slave; Hanna, a crazy quilt she began before the Civil War and finished by her daughter, Emma, in 1895. By clicking the “Next” button, quilts are shown by Harriet Powers; a quilt in a personal collection; unknown African-American quilter circa 1910; one of the first quilts made in 1966 by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Quilting Bee, and Georgia Patton. Images are not clickable for close-up views.
Elizabeth Hobbes Keckley: Picture of a quilt made for Mary Todd Lincoln by her dressmaker, Elizabeth Hobbes Keckley, a former slave. (Scroll to near the bottom of page & look on the right-hand side) One of Mrs. Keckley’s quilts now resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian.
First Person Slave Narrative: Published under the title – Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, but more recently a modiste, and friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. OR Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. [ NOTE: This account does not reference her quilting activities ]
Harriet Powers: An ex-slave whose work is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Site shows a picture of her and her famous Bible Quilt. Detailed information is given about the quilt.
The Night the Stars Fell: A moving account of an astronomical event that inspired one of the blocks in Harriet Power’s Bible Quilt is shared by Angela Walton, whose great, great grand grandmother, Amanda Young, witnessed the event and which became part of her family’s oral history. This same text is also available here: The Night the Stars Fell
1833 “Shower of Stars”: Extensive historical information about this phenomenon is provided in this article on the Sky & Telescope site.
Bible Quilt : Provides an explanation of each of the blocks in the quilt
Jane Bond: A slave. Site shows a picture of her preparing the hair of her mistress, Rebecca Bond and quilts that the two women made together.
Kadella: A slave who had been a Barbados princess. Site shows a picture of a chintz applique quilt made by her, as well as the house in which she lived.
Kissie Gary: An overall and detail view of an exquisite quilt made by several young slave girls, one of whom (Kissie) took the quilt with her when she left the plantation. Two sound files are available — one of a slave song, and the other of Kissie’s granddaughter talking about the quilt, the text of which can be read online.
Martha Ricks: A Liberian who worked for 25-years on a quilt as a gift to Queen Victoria and had the honor of traveling to England to present it herself in the late 1800s. Wonderful story told in a book written by Hallie Q.Brown in 1926, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. (scroll down to page 47). In this same book are other references to beautiful quilts being made by slaves. Be sure to use CTRL-Find and search using the work “quilt” (without the quote marks) to find them.
Quilt Block Made by a Slave [Site #1]: The Dusable Museum of African-American History provides the picture of a quilt block made in the 1850′s by a slave relative of Eugene and Felicia Flori of California. Scroll down 3/4 of the page. Although the picture is clickable, files on the site are jumbled and the close up view is of a powder horn, not the block.
Quilt Block Made by a Slave [Site # 2]: In the collection of the Michigan State University Museum. Circa 1860 using the “Oak Leaf” pattern.
Quilt Made by an Unknown Alabama Slave: Newspaper article, “Black Heritage Vibrantly Shown in Quilts” includes picture of a star quilt made by an unknown slave. Picture is clickable for an enlarged view.
Quilt Postcards: Oberlin College has a series of postcards, each of which is one of 30 blocks from the Oberlin Quilt. One of the blocks is about the Underground Railroad. Scroll down to the 4th block.
Seven Quilts for Seven Sisters: “A Stitch in Time” is a show in which each of the actresses is a quilter in real life. Using their knowledge of African-American slave history and quilting, the performance depicts the joys of sisterhood, the trials of slave life, and shows how quilting may have helped them to cope. Information is available about booking the show.
Biographies: Here you can read brief biographies of each of the quilters/actors who are part of this performance team.
Slave and Abolitionist Quilts: No pictures, but a brief article about quilting during slavery and gives the names of some quilt blocks associated with the abolitionist cause.
“The Brothers Assisted in the Quilting” : This is the picture of a wood engraving showing men threading the needles at a quilting bee that appeared in Harper’s Weekly, April 21, 1883 that is in the Schomburg Image Collection of 19th Century African Americans.
Threads of History : Two Rare African-American Quilts by “Yellow Bill” for Auction at Sotheby’s