Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ladies' Auxiliaries Gift Quilts

Crazy Quilt about 1887

"A Massachusetts unit of the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Civil War veterans’ Grand Army of the Republic, made this quilt as a gift for a sister organization in Peace Dale, Rhode Island."

The quilt is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design, Gift of Mrs. Patricia Barrett #80.280

The Womans Relief Corps (also spelled Women's) was a ladies' auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, the major Union veterans' organization. Making quilts was part of WRC activities and several quilts survive with an obvious link to the group.

Parade float about 1910

As with the RISD quilt above, members made gift quilts to honor hard-working officers and groups.

Crazy Quilt, 1890-1891, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library 

"Mary Eliza C. Knowles received this quilt in recognition for her service as president of the Massachusetts Women's Relief Corps in 1890....Each of the 64 blocks of this quilt bears the identification number of the Women's Relief Corps' local chapter and, in some cases, the chapter's name and location."
See more here:

I found mention of a similar gift quilt in the minutes of a WRC meeting in Minnesota in 1887.

"At this juncture Nettie A. Lewis, in her merry, loving way, presented Lulie A. Becker with a beautiful silk quilt, composed of embroidered eight-inch silk blocks, each Corps being represented by a block, their own handiwork."

There is another GAR Ladies' Auxiliary, the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Center of a quilt in the collection of the 
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

"Made by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic
Anna Ella Carroll Circle No. 1, San Jose, California
For Hattie Burgess Shattuck, December 1892"

For more about GAR auxiliary quilts see this post:

I can see I have made mistakes in the past assuming the WRC and the Ladies of the GAR were the same organization. I now realize they were competing organizations with LGAR founded in 1881 as the Loyal Ladies League and the WRC in 1883. The older group required members to be relatives of Union veterans, while the newer group did not. In 1886 the Loyal Ladies League changed their name to the Ladies of the GAR.

Now that the editorial we have this sorted out we can look around for more quilts by the LGAR.


WoolenSails said...

I love it when you mention quilting in my area, we go to Peacedale all the time when we head south. I will have to go to the local museums and see if I can spy some old quilts and get photos.


Unknown said...

Amazing. We more or less think of Civil War era woman as Scarlett O'Hara's with fans and servants. But they were as we are today. The CW women wanted to be of HELP of the causes they believed in with their whole hearts - North or South.

Think of no cell phones, no special ways of finding out about your loved ones far off in the War. I can't imagine what they must have gone through --- and survived!

Thanks Barbara

Terri Walker said...

Thank you, Barbara. Glad to see inclusion of the Grand Army of the Republic and the ladies groups.

The GAR and the allied women's orders are still going strong today in the form of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and original four allied women's groups:

...The GAR encouraged the formation of Allied Orders to aid them in its various works...the GAR finally endorsed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (later to become the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War) as its heir...the (Allied Orders are) Womans' Relief Corps (WRC), the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic(LGAR), the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War (DUVCW), and the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (ASUVCW). All have websites.

Jen said...

Thank you for the information .It was lovely to read about the Ladies groups of the Civil War era and see some of the quilts