Quilting in The Filson’s Collections: The Political and Campaign Quilt

In the past, I have written about quilting as a means of expression for women, but I never thought that it would lead to politics. I suppose it’s because I've grown up in an era where women have the right to vote and where people proclaim their political leanings quite publically (I’m looking at you, Facebook). I've got elections on the brain as we gear up for the political season, so imagine my surprise when I saw “The Political and Campaign Quilt” in our online catalog.

“The Political and Campaign Quilt” is a publication from The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society and was published in 1984. At first, it looks very unassuming, with its plain blue cover and blind embossed title. Once you turn the pages, your opinion quickly changes. The craftsmanship of these quilts is stunning, and while this book exhibits fine quilting, the reader is also introduced to a group of women who left their mark on these enduring artifacts. As Elizabeth A. Perkins states in the foreword, “Political quilts do not reflect lightly held opinions. The considerable amount of time it took to complete a quilt gave a woman ample opportunity to associate her most personal feelings with it.” Though women did not have an official voice when it came to electing our leaders, they used the means they had to make their opinions known.

Surprisingly, women having the right to vote did not stop them from creating campaign quilts. The quilt pictured below was appliquéd, pieced, and embroidered by Charlotte Christiansen Bass. It was quilted in 1980, though many of the blocks were finished in the 1970’s.

"Grand Old Party Quilt," 1980. Made by Charlotte Christiansen Bass. This quilt can be found on page 62 of "The Political and Campaign Quilt."

"Grand Old Party Quilt," 1980. Made by Charlotte Christiansen Bass. This quilt can be found on page 62 of "The Political and Campaign Quilt."

With quilting quickly gaining popularity and a mainstream following, we may see more political quilts in our future. As you can see, quilts can be a tangible reminder of the opinions and feelings we have, whereas a status or tweet is fleeting and quickly forgotten.

Source:
Christopherson, Katy. The Political and Campaign Quilt. The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society (1984). This book may be found in The Filson's library collection.

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans is the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator at The Filson Historical Society. When she isn’t working on publications for The Filson, you can find her behind her sewing machine or out on the roads training for her next big race.

2 comments on “Quilting in The Filson’s Collections: The Political and Campaign Quilt

  1. Carla Bass

    Jamie, I am the daughter of Charlotte Bass and was so gratified to see your article displaying her “Grand Old Party” quilt. Would very much like to discuss this with you and the possiblity of other interface. I have her entire collection — Mom had one-woman shows approximately every two years with theme-based collections (Christoper Columbus, History of Circus in America, Ancient Egypt in Stiches, and my favorite — and her second book — Kachina Indians).

    Reply
    1. Jennie Cole

      Thanks for your note, Carla! Jamie will be in touch with you this week.
      Best,
      Jennie

      Reply

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