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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1991. Department of Textiles, Clothing, and Design.


Copyright 1991, the author. Used by permission.


Data on 1,754 quiltmakers representing 4,453 quilts made between 1870 and 1989 were collected during twenty-seven Nebraska Quilt History Days. Information from questionnaires was used to develop a demographic profile of contemporary Nebraska quiltmakers and to compare their quiltmaking practices and motivations to historical quiltmaking practices and motivations. The majority of Nebraska quiltmakers of both periods were of German decent, and attended either the Methodist or the Lutheran church. Most contemporary quiltmakers had gone to high school or beyond, while the majority of historical quiltmakers had a grade-school education. Most contemporary and historical quiltmakers were rural homemakers who quilted for personal satisfaction rather than economic necessity. This finding supports recent scholarship which contends quiltmakers were motivated by the desire to be creative, rather than a need for low-cost bedding. Quiltmaking is a feminine skill which was passed down from mother to daughter in each period. There is, however, a trend for contemporary quiltmakers to learn their skills through quiltmaking classes. Both historical and contemporary quiltmakers were more likely to have made a pieced quilt than any other type. The seven most frequently registered quilt patterns were the same for each period; two of these patterns were also favorites of the quiltmakers of both periods. This finding supports recent scholarship that describes the contemporary quiltmaker as a “traditionalist”. In general, Nebraska quiltmakers of each period are representative of the population of the state demographically, reflective of women of their times socially, and typical of American quiltmakers in their motivations and quiltmaking practices.

Advisor: Patricia Cox Crews