Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bookshelf: A People & Their Quilts

One of the Federation of Genealogical Society 2010 Conference evening events was a trip to the Museum of Appalachia for some down home cooking and delightful music. We strolled through the collection of old log cabins (purchased and moved there by curator and historian John Rice Irwin). We felt like we were getting closer to an  understanding of a bit of the Tennessee history. We chose to walk throughout the park, as the music was carried by the summer breeze to the blacksmith shop, and various display barns on the museum grounds.

During our tour we discovered this woman demonstrating hand quilting, until the light grew to dim to continue. She sat just outside a small log cabin, where she had draped some smaller quilts on the porch rail.

A People and Their Quilts

On our arrival at the Museum shop, I had occasion to meet Mr. Irwin, and I picked up his book A People and Their Quilts. More than a book about quilt patterns, it is about the people who made the quilts. John visited with quilters in far away spots throughout Appalachia, and tells the story of their lives and how quilts figure in. I spent every spare moment reading about the quilters in John's book, during the week that followed FGS.

John writes "When a person admires the beauty, art, and workmanship of a quilt he surely wonders about its background, the people who made it and the location and type of home from which it came. Yet it is often impossible to learn anything about the history of old quilts."

Perhaps that is the lure -- the reason we love old quilts.

Even those who don't quilt can clearly see the tiny hand stitching, and marvel at the patterns and designs.