Antebellum Album 4: Quaker Pride by Mark Lauer
Block from the Aimwell School Quilt, Philadelphia, 1847.
Collection of the Historical Society of Moorestown, New Jersey.
This month's block is found in a lovely Quaker quilt made for a 30-year-old Philadelphia teacher.
"Presented by the Pupils of the Aimwell School to their
Teacher, Sarah D. Powell,
We saw the quilt at the AQSG meeting in New Jersey a few years ago.
I recognize Karen Alexander, Ginny Gunn and me admiring the fabrics.
The Aimwell School, on Cherry Street below
10th, photographed by Robert Newell, about 1870.
Sarah Dutton Powell was born in Nether Providence, Pennsylvania, in 1817. Her own schooling was at the Quaker Westtown School in Chester County, where she graduated with the class of 1838.
Embroidered sampler featuring the Westtown School
founded in 1799, near Philadelphia.
When Sarah was a student the female curriculum at Westtown still emphasized sewing. A short history of the sewing room there:
"Sewing was generally taught in girls' schools over the country; it was a special recommendation to a teacher that she could make a handsome sampler—at times that was the main object in attending school....In 1815 we are told that 'two weeks out of six were passed by the little girls in the sewing-room, no matter what their proficiency in the art.' "
The Committee of Instruction eliminated the sewing course in 1843 after Sarah's graduation.
Quaker needlework traditions with their early 1840s emphasis on friendship quilts undoubtedly influenced the fad for signature quilts. As a major Quaker academy Westtown School attracted Southern students whose parents valued Quaker or Friends culture over any North/South prejudices. So we can imagine that schoolmates from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line signed album blocks.
Westtown in 1840.
The school claims to be the
oldest co-educational school still operating in the U.S.
Westtown takes great pride in its over 200 year history, but the Quaker girls' school where Sarah taught was three years older. Founded by Anne Parrish (1760-1800) to give poor girls a proper education, she charged no tuition. Named for an educational goal, the Aimwell School was supported by contributions until it closed in 1923.
Sarah's quilt might have been made as a going away gift by her Aimwell students or as an engagement celebration. She married Isaac Leeds of Moorestown, New Jersey on March 28, 1849 at Philadelphia's Twelfth Street Meeting.
Twelfth Street Meeting House
Block 4 by Becky Brown
Our fourth album block has remained popular as a signature pattern since the 1840s.
Emily Vandergrift Snyder's Philadelphia quilt
recorded the death of her husband and three of her children.
See the whole quilt in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art here:
As #2413a & 2413b in BlockBase it has several published names.
Names include Grandmother's Pride so I've called this month's pattern Quaker Pride because of its popularity with Quaker album quiltmakers.
Cutting a 12" Block
A—Cut 2 squares 2-7/8”. Cut each in half diagonally.
You need 4 small triangles.
B—Cut 2 squares 5-1/4”. Cut each into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.
You need 8 large triangles.
Two blocks by Denniele Bohannon
The Civil War & After
Like several other young women followed here Sarah Powell Leeds did not live to see much of the Civil War. She died at 44 in July 1861, leaving five children three to ten years old. We can guess that she and a sixth child died at a time when almost 60 of every 1,000 births resulted in the mother's death.
The red vertical line is British data for 1860.
In 1990 the U.S. maternal death rate was 8.2 per 100,000;
In 2007: 12.7 per 100,000.
When Sarah died the rate was 6,000 per 100,000.
Statistics were no better in 1889
when this spirit photo of a motherly ghost
A little applique, a little fussy cutting.
Again Sarah's quilt probably survived because she did not. Her children may have treasured it as a relic: "Sacred to Memory" to use an old-fashioned term.
Sentiment for April
For the Quakers a dove of peace
Mark's second block in traditional color
See the Aimwell School Quilt files here at the Quilt Index:
And Lynda & Mary show several details of the blocks at Quaker Quilt History:
Quilt dated 1851 in an ad from antique dealer Susan Parrish.
Three of the blocks are this month's pattern.
Westtown Reunion in the 1880s