Saturday, January 19, 2008

Old State House Quilt Collection

 Updated 3/2017 -- photos and all links removed as many no longer active and it was easier than checking each one.

The Old State House Museum of Arkansas has a wonderful collection of quilts made by black women. My neighbor happens to be the current director. When he was an assistant director, he asked me (who along with my mom and a couple of my sisters) to sew the "sleeves" on the back of these quilts so they could be exhibited. I loved that job! I loved getting to touch and look at them up close. Recently I discovered that many, if not all, of them can be viewed on-line. Here is a sample of them, but please go to their website and view all of them.
I thought a nice starting place, in light of the election season would be this political quilt. The Donkey quilt was pieced by Beatrice Ruth Calhoun Williamson, Texarkana, in 1932-1934. Some history of donkey quilts can be found here.

Next there is this brightly colored American Tree quilt, circa 1940, made by Herma Williams.

This Pine Cone quilt, pieced by Oscar Evans, circa 1984, is very heavy! I recall that from sewing on the "sleeve". It is much more impressive in person than in this picture.

I really like this one (well, I like them all). This Stars quilt, circa 1890-1910, was made by Asia Cummings Shed. It was considered a “show piece,” used only on special occasions.

I hope you will go to the Old State House's web site and look through their on-line exhibit--A Piece of My Soul, Quilts by Black Arkansans. It's very interesting. You could easily spend an hour or two there. I know I'll be back to the site more than twice!


Dreaming again said...


We have a couple of quilts that my husband's grandmother and great grandmother made.

We made the mistake of using them ... and well ...after 20 years of marriage ... and the 20 years he had them before we met ...

they hardly look like the pieces of art they started out as.

Chris said...

I love the AIDS quilt project because aside from showing the breadth of our nation affected, it also gave such a personal account of each lost family member, so much more than just a name could. C