Saturday, June 16, 2018

Which Woolsey? A Sanitary Fair CDV

A rather mysterious photograph from the Metropolitan
Sanitary Fair in Manhattan in spring, 1864.
I've been looking closely at some of the Sanitary Fair photos
of women from the Civil War lately.

Some think it may be Union nurses and the women may well have served in military hospitals.
But this is not a nursing costume..




Jane E. Schultz, who has published two books on women's work in the Civil War, thinks
they might be wearing bakers' tocques. She wonders if they are well-known hospital workers Katharine Wormeley, Eliza Woolsey and Georgeanna Woolsey.  The captions from her Women at the Front.


The Library of Congress captions the headwear as regional costume from Normandy, France.

"Costume of ladies at the Normandy stand, Metropolitan Fair, April 1864 / Gurney & Son.
Portrait of a woman in a traditional costume from Normandy, France
Published 1864 April"

Me, I think that may be the most accurate description.

The Fair had a refreshment booth in which women in
similar hats and aprons sold "confectionery," probably baked goods.

I liked that idea so much I named a print in my fabric line
Metropolitan Fair "Girls of Normandy."

"En Normandie"
They do indeed have a traditional white head gear in Normandy.

I assumed (because we make dozens of assumptions every time we think about a historical image) that the Fair organizers had invited several young women from Normandy to run the booth. I realize now that would have been pretty expensive for a fundraising fair. Those are not French women at the Fair but rather New Yorkers dressed up in costumes to sell cake.

Jane Schultz thought the group of three might include some Woolsey sisters. The Woolseys were a wealthy New York family with well-earned reputations for hospital and Sanitary Commission work. I
Six of the seven sisters:

The family resemblance is so strong that it's hard to determine who is who, but Georgeanna is my
favorite Woolsey and I think the photo of the single woman is Georgy.

She would be a perfect vendeuse at the fair; every one knew of her; she was quite pretty
and---based on her letters---quite amusing. (That's why she's my favorite.)


That might be Georgy again in the center of the triple portrait
although she is not wearing the same neckwear.
But of course it could be Jane, Harriet or Eliza.
The women on the sides?

Katherine P. Wormeley (1830-1908)

I doubt any of them are Rhode Islander Katherine Wormeley as she has a longer face. This photo in Civil Ware era attire would seem to be a picture of her when she was in her 30s.



Katherine worked with the Woolseys in Civil War hospitals.

I've mentioned that next year's Block of the Month here will focus on hospitals and hospital workers, so I'm reading a lot about the topic. I would have said I'm reading about hospitals and nurses till I read Schultz's book in which she uses the broader term. Hospital workers.

Read Volume 1 of the Woolsey letters here:
Letters of a Family During the War for the Union, 1861-1865
https://books.google.com/books?id=gZA_AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Washington Street Studio Repro Prints

A reproduction of a Prussian blue plaid, ca 1850.
Washington Street Studio from P&B by Nancy Kirk

The good news is you should be able to find some new collections of Civil War era reproduction prints in your quilt shop. The current fabric business is certainly going through a period of change with lines disappearing and reorganizing but there are still some accurate repro prints arriving.

Repro of a sprigged madder calico

I noticed that P&B has a couple of new mid-century collections and I also noticed that the company is owned by a larger converter named General Fabrics Company of Rhode Island. A few months ago General Fabrics was bought by another converter Brand & Oppenheimer Company. (Converter is the trade name for the company that designs the fabric and puts the print, finish etc. on the goods.) The P&B repro fabric arm is called Washington Street Studios.

The industry gossip is hard to interpret --- and kind of a bummer, as we used to say before anybody was really printing fabric for quilters.

Repro of a neat stripe in California gold and madder colors from
Red Rooster

Last year P&B's Red Rooster division was doing some good
reproduction prints but they've closed Red Rooster in 2018.

The Bad News:

This chart updated to May 17th indicates that cotton selling for about 87 cents a pound a month ago has increased 6% in five months.  I'd expect more shake-ups from companies that use millions of pounds annually---
World cotton trade = 38 billion pounds per year.

Mourning the last bolts in an earlier trade war.
(Cartoon From the Napoleonic Wars ca 1804)

Here are some links to P&B current collections:
https://www.pbtex.com/collections/sarah-french-collection by Nancy Kirk
https://www.pbtex.com/pages/washington-street-studio-home

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Patriotic Headdress

A headdress shown in Godey's Lady's Book in 1861

Several New Yorkers wearing similar headdresses in 1864.
The theme lately is CDVs sold at Sanitary Fairs.


These women were photographed at the Albany Relief Bazaar, a fundraiser in early 1864. A penciled notation indicates they were members of an Irish Social History organization. Behind them are a pair of battle flags from the Irish Brigade. The CDV photo is by S. J. Thompson & Co. Albany

The page from Godey's.
No feathers in Albany.

But lots of these patriotic caps.




The United States Booth with attendants in costume of white shirtwaists, banners and headdresses.

Catherine Gansevoort (1838–1918)

Among the organizers of the Albany Fair was Kate Gansevoort, daughter of a wealthy Albany politician. She invited her cousin Herman Melville to visit the Fair and he did. He was enough of a celebrity that several Sanitary Fair committees asked for his autograph to be raffled.

As at other Sanitary Commission fundraising fairs Albany had a quilting frame set up. The Holland Booth celebrated Dutch families of the early settlers. 
"The ladies ...revive the glorious old customs of the past, by offering the visitor a pipe, and inviting him to sit down at a quilting, where the material is stitched on a frame, which is supported on the tops of chairs, and surrounded by a merry group of quiltcrs, plying the needle and chatting as of old....

I think these women are demonstrating the lost art at New York City's
Metropolitan Fair.

It's amusing to see how nostalgic people could get over quilting in 1864.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

MINOR Error in Pattern #5

Block 5 Antebellum Album
Cross & Crown
by Susan V.
The signature is from her family member.

You may have noticed that you cut too many 4-1/2" squares for the Cross and Crown block. I've updated the blog post and the PDF's at Etsy but the first versions had a counting error.

The pattern used to say that  you needed 4 light C squares (cut 4-1/2")
That is too many. You only need 1.
I fixed it everywhere I think.

This is right.

Block 5 Marlyne
Hers is the reverse so you need 4 light squares and 1 dark.


Nancy alerted me to the error. Sorry for any extra squares. It was not a plot to make you use more fabric.

And it's a good excuse to show you some finished Block 5's.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Collecting Coup: Annie Bell

Anyone interested in women in the Civil War has seen this photograph,
which is usually labeled as a nurse feeding a patient.

Lately, she has been identified as Annie Bell, matron
at a Nashville Union hospital in 1864.


Collector Chris Foard specializes in items connected to Civil War nurses. A nurse himself, he's written about finding the above letter with the CDV photo in a packet of ephemera and letters.

The letter is from Annie Bell to her mother dated February 15, 1864. 
"I send you a picture, one of the persons you will perhaps recognize. Two weeks ago, some of the Sanitary Commission people came to see me & asked that I would allow an artist to take a hospital scene, that they wanted such a one to sell at the fair at Cleavland.... I consented—and now there is quite a rage for the picture, Mrs Harris declares she must have some to sell in Phila, & Huntingdon, but I said they must not go any where where I am known. It makes me laugh to think of becoming saleable—and folk’s making money out of me."


Foard's find explains the circumstances behind this photo and probably several similar pictures of hospitals and soldiers. The Sanitary Commission sent photographers, duplicated the carte-de-visites and sold them at the various Sanitary Fairs in 1864. Bell mentioned the Cleveland event, the Northern Ohio Sanitary Fair from February 22nd through March 10th. The inscription above indicates the photographs were also sold in Chicago at the Great North Western Sanitary Fair and as Bell mentions perhaps Philadelphia's Great Central Fair. The "Huntingdon" reference....?

Booth selling photographs in Philadelphia

CDVs were a popular item at Sanitary fairs, including photographs of Union Generals
and General Grant's daughter Nellie as "The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe."



Three nurses. 
"Hospital at No 9, Summer '63'"
Note the handwriting is the same as
on Bell's photo above.
The woman in the center looks like Anne Bell, same hair,
same dress.
Same day?




Our plans for next year's BOM include a focus on hospital workers (I was going to say nurses) but hospital workers better describes the role of women in Civil War hospitals. Annie Bell will definitely be one of the characters in the series.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Antebellum Album #5: Cross & Crown


Block 5: Cross and Crown by Denniele Bohannon

Our fifth Antebellum Album block is a version of a pattern we might call Bear's Paw or Goose Tracks. This month's focus is a Massachusetts public school.

Charlotte Louise Bridges Forten (1837-1914)
 perhaps the 1870s.

Like many 19th-century girls looking for an education, sixteen-year-old Lottie Forten left home to board with family friends while attending a girls' school as a day student. She'd grown up in Philadelphia where her father considered the available schools second rate. The only available schools for the Fortens were segregated colored schools. Free black James Forten refused to send his daughter to a second-rate school.

Essex Street, Salem, about 1870

Another opportunity appeared in 1853. Lottie was invited to Salem, Massachusetts, which prided itself on a colonial tradition of free public schools. Nearly ten years earlier Salem became the first city in Massachusetts to integrate those schools after a boycott of the "inferior" separate school by black parents. Lottie boarded with the Remond family, activists in the desegregation battle.

In 1818 Sarah Ann Pollard, a student at Salem's 
Clarrisa Lawrence School for African-American girls, 
stitched this sampler now in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

Salem schools may have been Integrated by law but Lottie was the only pupil of color in the Higginson Grammar School for Girls. Her diary details the emotional ups and downs of a shy, self-disciplined but self-deprecating teenager who was periodically bed ridden with "lung fever."

Charlotte traveled from Philadelphia north to to Salem
to find a good school

Although many of Higginson's 200 students were undoubtedly unkind (Lottie marveled that "every colored person is not a misanthrope") she made good friends such as Sarah Brown (Brownie) who kept in touch through letters after leaving Salem. Fitting in was difficult but Lottie benefited from principal Mary Lakeman Sheperd's attention and mentoring. Mary Sheperd, about 12 years older than her star student, also remained a lifelong friend.



Charlotte graduated from Salem Normal School 
(teachers' college) in 1856.

Lottie enrolled in the Salem Normal School, again as the only black student and first black graduate.  She was then hired by the Salem public schools as the first black school teacher to teach white children. 

Cross and Crown by Becky Brown

The Block
Cross and Crown seems a good block for Charlotte who was cursed or blessed by always being "first". 
"Miranda B Ervine/California"
More likely from California, Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh
rather than the more famous west coast state.

The block was quite popular for early friendship quilts.

Quilt dated 1842 - 1848, Caroline Bradley Magruder.
Documented in the Maryland project and in their book
A Maryland Album: Quiltmaking Traditions, 1644-1934

In the 1840s and '50s these nine patches were usually appliqued rather than pieced.  In the example below the quiltmaker began with white corner squares and appliqued 2 green triangles and one green square on top of the white.

"David Raber
Lebanon, Pa
January 12, 1848"
Applique stitches.
You'd start with a pieced pink nine-patch and add the red applique pieces.
But we are not doing applique this year!

Cross and Crown By Denniele Bohannon
More about that pattern here:

The pieced design based on equal size nine-patch squares
is not in BlockBase or my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns 
because it wasn't published in this proportion. It should be on this page.
 I'm writing it in my copy as #1713.5.

A pieced block of different proportions.

We're familiar, however, with numerous pieced variations based on a narrower center strip. Here are a few 20th century names for BlockBase 1863 a and b.


Appliqued blocks tend to be equal nine patches
while the pieced version have narrower center strips.

Cutting a 12" Finished, Pieced Block



A - Cut 4 dark squares 2-1/2".

B - Cut 2 dark and 2 light squares 3-1/4". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.

You need 8 light triangles and 8 dark.

C - Cut 4 dark and 1 light squares 4-1/2". This is a correction.

D - Cut 2 light squares 4-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 4.


Cross and Crown by Pat Styring

The Civil War & After

Charlotte spent some of her Civil War on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, where she continued her diary. She taught freed slaves for two years until her health required she return North.

The Penn School on St. Helen Island founded in 1862.
Northern teachers volunteered to maintain
schools on Union-occupied territory during the war.

After the war she worked for the Treasury Department in Washington and married Reverend Francis J. Grimk√©. She died in 1914, praised as an exemplary minister’s wife and a poet, writer and lecturer in her own right.


By Mark Lauer

Sentiment for May

This little flourish, full of good wishes, resembles 
a Union shield so would make an appropriate Union sentiment.



Southern segregated school after the war

Charlotte Forten Grimke’s diaries have been published in several forms. The most comprehensive is edited by Brenda Stevenson: Journals of Charlotte L. Forten Grimke (Schomberg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers. Oxford University Press, 1998.)
See a preview here:

Cross and Crown by Mark Lauer

1842 - 1844 from the Rieff family and others, Pennsylvania
Collection of Gail Bakkom.
 Quilt Index Signature Project

I show an album sampler each month with the monthly pattern in it but I cannot find this block in a sampler. Apparently it was most often used for repeat block signature quilts.

For those of you who want to plan ahead: Buy the PDF's for patterns 5-8 on Etsy.

Or I'll mail you a black & white copy.