Saturday, September 10, 2022

Caroline Holds a Quilting


"The Brothers Assist in the Quilting," Harper's,  April 21, 1883*

Emily Pillsbury came to Georgia from New Hampshire in the 1830s to work as a tutor for a plantation family near Savannah. In her 1850 memoir she writes of a quilting put on for the slaves by Caroline, the overseer's wife. Caroline was a slave herself but in her position of authority she had privileges.

Freed people in Vicksburg, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 27, 1864

"This quilting party was held in the night, the first part of which was devoted to work on the quilt, the latter part to festivity and dancing."

Judy by Alice Huger Smith, late 19th century

"It may seem strange to my readers to hear of men being invited to a quilting but I can say to them, that among the Southern field hands, the women can hoe as well as the men, and the men can sew as well as the women."

Emily Pillsbury Burke (1814-1887)

"Caroline...was one of my best friends on this plantation...when her guests had all assembled and were seated around the work, she sent for me....the men and women were seated promiscuously around the frame, very quietly yet...expeditiously plying the needle to all sorts of lines, both crooked and straight."

Alfred Waud, Ration Day, 1867

Emily had seen finer quilting lines and more chatter around the frame in New England. In Georgia: Large needles for work-hardened hands and marking with charcoal.

                                            Mississippi Department of Archives, about 1900

* I've misdated this illustration as 1863 in the past but the clothing and a little more research date it to 1883. 

Emily Pillsbury's first edition was titled Reminiscences of Georgia.


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