What I Did on My Autumn (not summer) Vacation
By Carol Gebel, Acquisitions (a special request article)

It was a dark and stormy night (apologies to Snoopy), when Dr. Susan Armitage, Claudius O. and Mary Johnson Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University, gave the keynote address at the 25th Annual Seminar of the American Quilt Study Group, which met October 8-10, 2004. Vancouver, Washington, was being assaulted by heavy rain as Dr. Armitage spoke on “Tied Together: Tracing Connections Between Women Through Quilts”.

I was attending my fourth seminar and found it to be exciting and invigorating with the added bonus of direct person-to-person networking. Six papers were presented. Two investigated friendship or signature quilts, including the use of fraktur writing on some of these quilts. Two presenters spoke on different Civil War quilts, one of which was made by women of Eureka, California, for then General U.S. Grant.

Another paper concentrated on a collection of quilts made by several members of one family in South Carolina. The sixth paper investigated rare eighteenth-century indigo-resist fabric and quilts, emphasizing the use of a color spectroscope to distinguish between cotton and linen fibers. I really think I could differentiate between the two fibers now after seeing the examples, provided I had the use of a color spectroscope.

Other activities included workshops (a couple of which were Bird Imagery on Quilts and Quilts of the Deep South), a silent auction and a live auction as well as tours and sales of books and quilts. (Yes, I did bring a quilt home with me.)

I was able to consult with more than one expert on Pennsylvania quilts regarding a signature quilt and other quilts I own and have made contact with the curator of the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky, regarding the possible loan of one of my quilts for an exhibit in 2005.

The seminar papers of the American Quilt Study Group (located in Lincoln, Nebraska) are indexed in several sources including America: History and Life. In fact, if you go to that database and put my name in as author you will find an abstract of a paper that I presented to the American Quilt Study Group in 1995.

I returned home from Washington with the excitement of all that I heard and saw (including Mount St. Helens steaming) still resonating in my head to discover an acceptance e-mail from PieceWork, a periodical published by Interweave Press. They will be publishing my article about Lillie Hayes Leeds and her unfinished tumbling blocks quilt in their Sept/Oct 2005 issue. If you attended the enrichment session on Researching Historic Quilts in September 2003, you might remember the quilt example that was in a two-sided frame. That silk and satin “piece” is the subject of my article.

If you are interested in the history of quilts and quilt makers, I recommend the American Quilt Study Group’s seminars. The next one will be in Golden, Colorado, in October 2005. See you there.