Postcard From The South.

posted in: Quilting, Work 13
A church in Shady Grove, Tennessee, 2006. Photo: Wikipedia.
A church in Shady Grove, Tennessee, 2006. Photo: Wikipedia.

 

I’m down south for a few days to do some quilt research.

The gift of learning about the history of quilts in America is that I get to learn about America’s history in an indelible, singular way. In high school, I didn’t care much about history. This was partly because I was sixteen but mostly because I had no entry point. There was no angle. There was just a textbook, fat with facts regarding the whole of American history starting at Roanoke. How are you supposed to approach something like that? You just try to pass the test. Then you forget — and forgetting is a kind of robbery. It happens to a lot of us.

But when you’re a quilter who wants to know where she came from, you are lucky. Because you have this glorious lens through which to view history. Quilts become a portal. As I’ve been looking into the tale of Tennessee, for example, I’m looking at it vis a vis the quilts that have been made here, the people who have made them, the eras in which they were produced. Therefore, all Tennessee’s political changes, the wars, the prominent citizens who lived here, the state’s various regions, the economy, the generations — heck, even the weather — it all come into focus in full color, so vivid I can hardly believe my brain is able to fire like this.

But the reason is simple: I have context. I have a connection. As a quilter, I’m part of the story — so I care more about the story. That’s human nature — and honey, I’m as human as she gets. That’s why history comes alive for me now: I’m not outside of it, now. The longer I go along in this life, the more interested I am in anything that happened before I was born. Lucky for me, there’s a lot of material. And I get to fly in on my magic carpet quilt.

Groovy.

13 Responses

  1. Ann Bailey
    | Reply

    Best post ever, Mary. I love the “angle” thought – yes, we willingly learn when we have an angle, a vested interest, something that piques our curiosity or causes us to feel inclusion in the subject matter. Learning becomes a wondrous thing.

    • Jena
      | Reply

      I’m from Tennessee and have many of my Grandmother’s Quilts ! She was born in 1910. I have photos to share if you would like. My mother is 83 and we talk about all my Grandmother had made in her life time. She over to be 94.

      • Jena
        | Reply

        I’m from Tennessee and have many of my Grandmother’s Quilts ! She was born in 1910. I have photos to share if you would like. My mother is 83 and we talk about all my Grandmother had made in her life time. She lived to be 94.

  2. Kelly Ashton
    | Reply

    Isn’t it awesome feeling a part of something so wonderful and big and, generally, joyful?!?!? Have a marvelous time researching and exploring, Mary!!!

  3. jean m
    | Reply

    Oh yes, beautiful Tennessee! I was born, raised, and will die here. Please let your readers know what you discover about our Tennessee quilt history.

  4. Barbara
    | Reply

    It’s true Mary, Once I’m involved in something, I want to know as much about it as I can. Sometimes, I go overboard, but hey, that is what I want and need to do to satisfy my inherent interest and curiosity about things. Have fun in Tennessee!

  5. Connie Pierce
    | Reply

    Welcome to my home state! Check out the Museum of Appalachia if you’re in east Tennessee.

  6. Pat
    | Reply

    Welcome to Tennessee! I am a transplant from New York and I am so grateful to be here. The beauty and culture here is breathtaking. Enjoy!

  7. Lisa Krenz
    | Reply

    Mary, I completely agree about the importance of having an “angle” into history! You nailed it. I’ve always enjoyed history but when I started quilting, the convergence of history and quilting was definitely my happy place. Then I added in family and “voila” a book was born. I recently self-published a book about our family history in Southern Illinois through the tales of 100 years of quilts owned or made by various members of our family. What I soon discovered was that our family history mirrored larger trends in quilting and culture. Here’s a link to the book if you or your readers are interested.

    https://www.amazon.com/Family-Threads-Familys-Memoir-Quilts/dp/0692850694/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498744110&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+krenz

  8. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Your comment about learning because of an ‘angle’ hit a true cord with me because I also have developed a passion about learning things about history. I do want to know about events, things, people and WOMEN who lived before I was born. Learning these things has given me a perspective I never had before or (foolish me) never cared about before. This adds to the richness of our tapestry we bring to the world. Dig it up lady, dig it up!!

  9. Peggy Brown
    | Reply

    Welcome to our beautiful state. We have a very rich history of quiltmaking and
    welcoming visitors! I hope you enjoy your time with us.

  10. Melinda Seegers
    | Reply

    I have “tied” (no pun intended) my love of history, especially the American Civil War with my passion for quilting. My first and favorite quilts are made of traditional patterns using civil war reproduction fabrics. The South is rich in the history of both.

  11. […] assignment was bliss for a quilt history nerd like me. You might remember when I was down there. I was vague about my trip because fans of Quiltfolk — a growing army at this point — know that when the […]

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