Whose History? The Quilt Scout Is IN!

posted in: Art, Quilting, Tips 11
"A little spinner in a Georgia cotton mill." Photo: Lewis Hine, 1874-1940. Image courtesy Library of Congress by way of Wikipedia.
“A little spinner in a Georgia cotton mill.” Photo: Lewis Hine, 1874-1940. Image courtesy Library of Congress by way of Wikipedia.


The latest lecture in my menu debuted at QuiltCon on Saturday morning. It went well.

The talk, titled, “Standing On the Shoulders of Giants: A Brief History of the American Quilt,” is my best lecture yet, no question. I spent hours and hours and hours researching and making it just right — the slides themselves are artful and nice to look at because I have learned rudimentary Photoshop techniques at art school and that is exciting — and I’m stoked to take this puppy out on the road in the coming year. Am I coming to your area? Are you going to see this thing? It is very possible. If I’m not coming to an opera house, lecture hall, or quilt guild near you, why not? You should speak to Carmen.

The Quilt Scout this week examines something I had to keep in mind while giving a history lesson. I had to remember to push myself. I had to continually remind myself to ask: Whose history do I tell when I tell about history? It’s easy to see one version. There are lots of versions, though. If you’ve ever had an argument with someone who saw a situation differently than you did, you must concede this point.

Even if you’re not a quilter, I urge you to take a look at Quilt Scout today. It’ll get you mulling about responsibility, perspective, and like, the Industrial Revolution.

11 Responses

  1. Julie Sander
    | Reply

    My husband Charlie & I were at your talk & it was wonderful! Congrats! It was very well researched, & you are a very good speaker. Entertaining & informative is quite an accomplishment!

  2. Neame
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    Read the essay at Quilt Scout…it’s good. Always enlightening to ask ‘whose history?’.

  3. Patty
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    Loved your talk at QuiltCon – the material, the slides (they were great!) and your passion for the subject.

  4. Susan
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    My paternal grandmother worked in a mill all her life. I don’t know much at all about her, but this is HER story. I am going to start digging. BTW: Love it when you send us to Quilt Scout. I always read some extras while I’m there. Today was your article about giving it away. MY story. HUGS!

  5. Bethany
    | Reply

    The point of who suffered because of industrial revolution is good one. And while in this country anyway we made things safer and outlawed child labor, it is still pervasive in the textile industry. I think of the 1300 9-13 year old children who died when a factory collapsed in Bangladesh so we can buy cheap Gap t-shirts. Every piece of fabric I purchase, touch, makes me wonder about the conditions under which this lovely fabric was produced.

  6. Ashley Gomez
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    I absolutely loved your talk at QuiltCon! Every talk I’ve heard from you, I learn something new, and I feel better equipped to educate others on the history of quilts. Never stop what you’re doing!

  7. Vicki Reiter
    | Reply

    Mary I would love to invite you to our Expo Sept 8 & 9 in Lawrenceburg Indiana if you are available! Shoot me an email if you are and lets get you booked and her this lecture!!

  8. Janice Simmons
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    You thought your lecture went well? OH NO, my friend. Your lecture was more than that. It was outstanding. You have a real talent for engaging people. You covered so much history that I found myself wanting more, much more. And, that is a good sign of a great lecture. I want to know more about those Amish quilts. I want to know more about how that cotton gin influenced the cotton growers, the cotton processors and finally quilters. I want to know more about the Industrial Revolution and its impact on quilters Yes, your lecture was like an amazing appetizer that makes one look forward to the main course. I was taking notes as fast as I could on my iPhone because I forgot a notebook, but Mary I heard it all and those slides, those slides were perfect. Thanks for the hours and hours of research because it showed in your talk. Believe me, whenever I see your on the schedule for a lecture, I’m going to be there. Good job, my dear. Janice

  9. Barbara
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    After reading your Quilt Scout report, I have a much more interested and deep love of quilting and quilts. You’ve opened up a whole new way for me to look and know about quilts and what brought us to where we are today with respect to quilts.
    Thank you for this, Mary.

  10. Anita Brayton
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    I totally agree with Janice. I texted the Bayside Quilters of the Eastern Shore Program Chair for 2018, Tyra, to book you. You will be in Easton MD in April, 2018. I’ve already signed up for whatever you are going to teach when you get here. Do I have a sista-crush on you? Big one! I was the last pic you had time for. Now I have your autograph x 2, pic with you x2 , 1 post card and found your book at one of the vendors. A pretty nice Mary Fons collection. Thanks.

  11. linda schiffer
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    I was very blessed as a kid in 10th grade to have a truly excellent World History teacher (a black man in the semi-segregated South of the late 1960’s) who taught us all about not just history but the process of learning and evaluating history – for example, the existence of first person vs later sources. The entire ‘who’s history’ question was something he drilled into us. I blessed him then and have used the knowledge for more than five decades ever since.

    🙂 Linda

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