Saturday, June 11, 2022

Union Quilts


As Flag Day is June 14th we can revisit the idea of the Civil War "Union" Quilt, a description we find often in old newspapers---but rarely do we see what a Union Quilt is. An exception:

You could buy one in Philadelphia in 1901 for $100 
(maybe the equivalent of $3,500 today.) The ad tell us it has stars, stripes
and eagles.

Veteran's name quilt from Harrisburg, Illinois.
Illinois State Museum

Must a Union quilt have stars and stripes?

From a flag quilt made for Abbie Clark of Canandaigua, New York in 1866
Ontario County Historical Society

Quilt dated 1891 from Stella Rubin's inventory

 Ellen Lucinda Bennett Welch (1842-1918), Connecticut, 1861

Or will any patriotic quilt qualify?
Made any time after the beginning of the Civil War?

In 1911 Mrs. Benjamin Wallace of Grand Ledge, Michigan
 finished a quilt of very small pieces, 
"which is called a union quilt, the colors being red, white and blue."

Even if it's just a regular old quilt in red, white and blue?

Quilt made in 1909
D.A.R. Museum 

Iowa quilt dated 1912

Red, white and blue prints were popular fabrics in the 1890-1925 years.

A Union quilt at the Methodist church fair in Selma, California,

I have to conclude that a Union Quilt is anything one might consider patriotic, whether because of the imagery or the colors of the flag.

The press of the early-20th-century often referred to the red, white and blue as "The National Colors," a search I used to find some of these references.

See some earlier posts on Union Quilts:

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