Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Hospital Sketches #5: Pineapple - Armory Square Hospital

Block #5 Pineapple by Becky Brown
remembers the Washington hospitals where poet
Walt Whitman was a volunteer.

American writer Walt Whitman was in his early forties when the Civil War began. He came to Washington, the city of hospitals, looking for his wounded brother in a false alarm.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Portrait by the Brady studios in Washington City, 1860s

Moved by the suffering he saw he stayed in the Union capitol, finding a government job that gave him time to visit hospital wards, volunteering to help with nursing and provisions and to write about the horrors and humanity he found.

Armory Square Hospital, which Whitman visited often, was located
where today's Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is
at Independence Ave and 6th Street. The stone building is the National Armory.
"There are not merely two or three or a dozen [Washington hospitals], but some fifty of them, of different degrees of capacity. Some have a thousand and more patients.
Ward at Armory Square
The wards are in the wood barracks-like buildings built especially as hospitals.
"The newspapers here find it necessary to print every day a directory of the hospitals; a long list, something like what a directory of the churches would be in New-York, Philadelphia or Boston... Whitman article for the New York Times.
"Each ward has a Ward-master, and generally a nurse for every ten or twelve men.... Some of the wards have a woman nurse -- the Armory-square wards have some very good ones. The one in Ward E is one of the best."

Carver Hospital was on Florida Avenue between 13th & 14th Streets NW.
Five purpose-built hospitals were erected in the city.

At Carver Hospital he brought ten gallons of ice cream on a hot summer day in 1864, reporting to his mother:
"Many of the men had to be fed, several of them I saw cannot probably live, yet they quite enjoyed it, I gave everybody some--quite a number western country boys had never tasted ice cream before."
Ward at Carver Hospital. 
The women in the wards may be family members personally
 nursing their own soldiers or that rare female nurse that Whitman mentioned.

Sarah Low of Dover, New Hampshire worked in Washington,
 first at the Union Hotel and then at Armory Square.
More about her in next Saturday's post.

In an 1863 letter Whitman wrote:
"I always carry a stout double-pocket haversack, filled with things—also large pockets in my coat &c—I have articles of many kinds.
The Smithsonian has Whitman's haversack in its collection.
"I have learnt what is appropriate—I generally carry a bottle of wine—I buy oranges by the box, & fill my pockets with them before going into a ward, they are very refreshing to feverish men this weather—I have nice preserved peaches or something of the jelly sort—to many I give little sums of money—the soldiers very largely come up here without one cent."

Block #5 Pineapple by Janet Perkins

With wine and fruit Whitman must have been a welcome visitor.

To his mother:
 "I go every day without fail, & often at night—sometimes stay very late—no one interferes with me, guards, doctors, nurses, nor any one—I am let to take my own course."
The Block

The Pineapple was among the most popular mid-19th century patterns for repeat block quilts and samplers.

The center embroidery: "M.A.J. Connell A Present From Her Mother"
Georgia quilt project, photograph from their book Georgia Quilts

Barbara pieced her backgrounds of squares cut 9-1/2".

To Print:
Create a word file or a new empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file. Be sure the square is about 1" in size.

For the background cut a square 18-1/2".

Add seam allowances to the pattern pieces if you are doing traditional applique.

Block #5 Pineapple by Bettina Havig


Pineapple with dots by Becky Brown

Reverse applique dots!!!
Not going to happen.
From the Connell quilt.

Cut a square 9 to 10".
1 Each of A, B & C 
Layer piece C over the others to fit

Denniele Bohannon's #5 Pineapple Sprout
Finished 9" Square
Add dots

After the War

Hospitals with long-term patients published newspapers to entertain patients and editorial staff.
Someone doodled leaves on an issue of the Armory Square Hospital Gazette. See issues at

The Air & Space Museum on the right today where Armory Square once was.
The barracks were probably demolished in the 1860s; 
the original Armory building was torn down in 1964.

Armory Square hospital closed in September, 1865. Walt Whitman remained in Washington after the war, continuing in his job as a government clerk. While tending to his dying mother in Camden, New Jersey in 1873 he had a stroke, which made it impossible to return to his job. He stayed with his brother in Camden until royalties from his poetry books enabled him to buy his own house. Despite illness he continued to write and lecture until he died in 1892 in Camden.

Sampler album from the Steele family, documented in the
West Virginia project. From the Quilt Index.
Note border corners---one way to make it work without overlapping
the seams.

Block #5 Pineapple by Mark Lauer

Extra Reading:

Read about Civil War Washington at this website:

See a post on more pineapple blocks:

Block #5 Pineapple by Paula Smith

Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Many Sanitary Commission Quilts Survive?

In a study of quilts made for Union Soldiers Virginia Gunn estimated that 125,000 quilts and comforts were distributed by the Sanitary Commission during the war.

The Sanitary Commission was all about keeping records

Read "Quilts for Union Soldiers in the Civil War" by Virginia Gunn, Uncoverings #6, 1985 at this  link:

Very few of those quilts survive.
Pamela Weeks, curator of the New England Quilt Museum, estimates about 20 have been identified in museum and private collections today. I have 14 in the picture files.

Fort Hill Sewing Circle, dated 1864
 Hingham, Massachusetts
International Quilt Study Center and Museum Collection

Inking on some survivors tells us of the origins.A few have a stamp indicating that they were the property of the Sanitary Commission as in the quilt above.

And a few have a story passed on with them.

Wadsworth Athenaeum Collection
Granville, New York

New England Quilt Museum Collection

Each block here is separately bound.

These samplers tend to be of a style---simple pieced blocks of cotton set together with narrow sashing (sometimes each block is quilted and then joined---what we called potholder quilts today). The quilts are long and narrow.

The Sanitary Commission asked for quilts of cheap materials, about 7 feet long by 50 inches wide
and several of these quilts are about 84" x 50", as requested.

Several of the survivors feature repeat blocks

Nine patch from Jan Coor Pender Dodge's collection,
Made in Dublin, New Hampshire.
It has the stamp on it.

Made in Vernon, Connecticut
Collection of the Lincoln Memorial Shrine
Redlands, California

Stamped label on the reverse

Made in Florence, Massachusetts, 1865

The quilt from Florence has a patriotic image
in the center, which certainly helps with identification.

International Quilt Study Center and Museum Collection
Made in Detroit, Michigan, 1864

Made for the Armory Square Hospital in Washington

Mystic Seaport Museum Collection
Ladies's Aid Society, Portland, Maine

Belfast Historical Society
Belfast, Maine, Ladies Aid Society
For the Armory Square Hospital

Collection of the Smithsonian Institution
Susannah Pullen and Sunday School Class
Augusta, Maine

Several inked inscriptions tell us the source of the quilt: "If this quilt survives the war we would like to have it returned to Mrs. Gilbert Pullen, Augusta, Me....This quilt completed Sept. 1st 1863.”

Made in Windsor County, Vermont, attributed to 
Caroline Bowen Fairbanks, Vermont Historical Society

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Rest of the Post on Repro Fabrics

Sarah's Story in Betsey Chutchian's booth

Pam Buda's booth

Riviera Rose by Renee Nanneman 

I went to Quilt Market last Friday looking for what was new in repro fabric.
Not much. It was hard to find any 19th-century reprints scheduled for summer and fall delivery.

Rochester by Di Ford Hall

There are a few good lines out there. Some available now.

Susanna's Scraps by Betsy Chutchian

Some scheduled for fall

Regency Sussex by Christopher Wilson Tate

It's a good time to buy if you are looking for blues...
Tell your shop owner to buy them
and then you buy them from her.
It couldn't hurt.

Charlotte 1860 by Carrie Quinn

Abigail Blue by Mary Koval

Vive La France by French General

And you should be buying blues because one day the blue trend will be over
and you will have to rely on your stash.

Carol Hopkins, Mrs. Lincoln

There was no shortage of traditional patterns. We loved this one by Carol Hopkins but it's hard for shops to support the traditional and reproduction pattern businesses when there is no fabric to market with the books and patterns. Quilt shops are really not in the business of advising people to use their stashes.

Maybe next year.