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Chintz appliqué albums: Memory and meaning in mid-nineteenth century quilts of the Delaware River Valley

Carolyn K Ducey, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examined two sub-sets of a unique style of chintz appliqué album quilt that developed in the 1840s in Delaware River Valley, specifically Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey. The two groups provide examples of two distinct roles that the album quilts played in the lives of their makers: one acting as a literal record of familial ties, serving to preserve memory and reinforce family structure and the other representing the work of the members of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, providing a vehicle to recognize and appreciate dedicated service and playing a role in encouraging interest and support for international missions. Historical and genealogical research of the inscribed details substantiated the connection between each group of quilts and provided an opportunity to uncover rich details of the economic position and societal roles of the individuals whose names are inscribed on the quilts, and offered a means to better understand the cultural environment in which they were made. Research of the sub-sets, now identified as the Fish/Perrine Album quilts (a group of three quilts) and the First Baptist Church Album Quilts, (a group of five quilts and a sixth non-extant quilt known through written sources) has advanced the study of quilt history by placing the quilts in the larger context of American quiltmaking; women’s history, through investigation of expectations placed on women by the emergence of the American middle class, urbanization, and the expansion of the American consumer culture, and social history, which revealed the importance for nineteenth century individuals, of maintaining family connections and preserving memory. The quiltmaking activities of these individuals served to solidify their roles as wives and mothers and as productive citizens of their communities and the world.

Subject Area

American history|Art history|Design|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Ducey, Carolyn K, "Chintz appliqué albums: Memory and meaning in mid-nineteenth century quilts of the Delaware River Valley" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3412907.