Hearts & Darts by Becky Brown
Block #9 in the Ladies' Aid Sampler is Hearts & Darts to recall the Ladies' Alert Clubs, a neglected chapter of Civil War women's work.
A "Daughter of the Regiment"
Union women's organized Civil War work was centered on the Sanitary Commission and to a lesser extent the Christian Commission, primarily concerned with gathering, making and buying supplies for hospitals and soldiers.
Alert Clubs were offshoots of Ladies' Aid Societies and the local Sanitary Commission groups, perhaps inspired by the young women of Norfolk, Ohio who formed the first Alert Club, dedicated to raising money.
New York City's Women's Central noticed their success and suggested other communities form Alert Clubs. The model seems to have really been a kind of patriotic shakedown by the town's pretty girls. People (most likely men) subscribed, promising say 20 cents a month, and collectors came by on a regular basis to pick up the dimes. Note picture of demure collector "Alert" below.
From a post war history The Tribute Book...
They might make slippers and quilts...
Hearts & Darts by
Hearts & Darts by Robyn Revelle Gragg
The money, of course, was all for the cause, spent on supplies for soldiers
and good works like paying off the mortgage of a soldier's widow as
the women of Norwalk did.
The Alert Club in Silver Creek, New York, on Lake Erie's shore sent $5 in February, 1864.
Silver Creek, fifty years later
Hearts & Darts, thus, is an excellent block to recall the female "collectors" of the Alert Clubs.
Massachusetts project & the Quilt Index
Hearts and Darts is one name for a popular pattern also called
Double Hearts as in this one found in a Massachusetts trunk.
Detail of the birds
But it seems New Yorkers were exceptionally fond of the design.
Blocks in a New York album
The patterns were cut from folded paper, snowflake style,
and there are many variations.
William H. Thompson, Brooklyn 1866
If you'd like to know more about the Alert Clubs you can read the 1864 minutes of the Norwalk Club in the Firelands Pioneer, beginning on page 1734. They made a few quilts.