Friday, March 27, 2020

Suffrage Centenial Quilts: Lelane H.

I love this piece because it gave me an opportunity to learn!  Thank you!  Lelane writes:

Gender equality is one of the Shaker tenets but Shakers usually kept their actions within their communities. 
Catherine Allen (1852-1922) was more active in both peace causes and equal suffrage outside her community at Mount Lebanon , New York. As a child she was sent to board with the North Family at Mount Lebanon in 1865. She stayed with the community and in 1908 she became an Eldress of the Central Ministry.
  As a Shaker leader she was an active women's suffrage proponent.  She spoke at conferences and led petitions urging women's suffrage.
  The production of Shaker "Dorothy" cloaks became a profitable business venture from 1890 to the 1930s. Mrs. Grover Cleveland wore one to President Cleveland's second inauguration in 1893. The cloaks were wool lined in satin with a satin ribbon at the neck.
  I chose to quilt a cloak as a representation of a Shaker I admire.

I loved the background fabric and asked Lelane about it.  She said that she a quilt study group had dated the fabric in the 1940s or 50s and the fabric was quite heavy (perhaps decorative fabric).  It's a wonderful piece!  Well done Lelane

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Suffrage quilts from our readers: today Cass G.

I was going to wait to post photos of some of the suffrage quilts that people have been showing me in their emails but I think it best to begin to share them here.

Today we feature two quilts made by Cass G.  These quilts are being featured in Lebanon Township Museum which due to COVID-19 is closed.  

What I love about these quilts is that they are really unique.  I love the crazy quilt backgrounds, perfect for the time that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton really rose to fame.  
Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

These kinds of silhouettes were popular in the 19th and early 20th century.  Well done Cass!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What you are working on!

Beth is working on this right now!  Many of you know her because she does the By the Chimney No More program with me.  Isn't this quilt lovely?  She had texted me a photo of the masks she is making but for whatever I can't download those photos.  She writes:  

I am grateful to work remotely during this pandemic and the ability to sew during my lunch break is wonderful.  I have three projects in the work during this time of social distancing.  Chain piecing an Irish chain quilt.  Hand sewing the binding on a rail fence quilt .  And making covers for the N 95 masks so desperately needed for our dedicated health workers.  quilters and makers have always used our sewing as therapy during hard times and to support causes.  Let us all use this time to be productive, help where we can, and if you are in lock down with a friend or a family member now is a great time to teach them the art of sewing.  Stay safe, strong and stich on!

I also want to let you know that I have another blog that you may wish to explore called 3 poodles and a nana.  I've had that blog since my granddaughter was a toddler.  I'm sharing it with you in case you need some kind of diversion--there are lots of other quilt related blogs that show up on the main page on the Your Are my Sunshine list to the right of the blog.  Enjoy.

On Wednesday I'm going to post some photos of Suffrage Centennial quilts that you have been sending me.  Stay safe in the meantime and my prayers are with you all!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Knitting

Sojourner Truth, suffragist and well known speaker.
Her portrait shows her knitting.

"Knitting is the saving of life," Virginia Woolf wrote.  To Woolf and other crafters, there is something very comfortable about knitting.  I admit, the only time I did serious knitting when I was in college; my best friend in nursing school knitted as well.  There's something comforting about the rhythm of the needles as we work away at our knitting or purling.  It's most likely why so many people took up knitting (and quilting by the way) after 911.  

Of course, knitting can be political as well--case in point--the pink pussycat hats worn a few years ago:
A pink pussycat knit by Jayne B.  Apologies for the color being off, we are having a few dark days here.

Suffragists knitted as well.  Like embroidery, there were special clubs for knitters associated with various suffrage branches:
There were even classes taught:

Piecework magazine published an interesting article on suffrage and handwork (read here).  The aspect of this article that I find fascinating is the consistent rationalizing of why women shouldn't have the vote.  On one hand, suffragists were perceived as unwomanly creatures who shirked their domestic duties; but when they sewed or knitted to raise money for the cause, they were portrayed as frivolous.  

In 1915, while World War I ravaged Europe, an article was syndicated throughout the U.S. about Belgian suffragists who tried to help their country:

When the United States entered World War 1 in 1917, people knitted socks and sewed articles to support the troops:

Everyone knitted to do their part including boys:

And of course, suffragists:

Under the direction of Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the National American Suffrage Association, suffragists knitted throughout the country to help the war effort.  They were joined by all groups of people in the country to do their part, just as we are doing our part now to try to protect ourselves and communities:

If you are knitting a project and would like to share a photo with the group, send me an email and I'll post it on the blog!
Stay safe dear friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Grandma McLain's Suffrage Quilt

Close-up of a quilt from my collection, dated 1908.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, quilts were often used by suffragists to raise money and awareness for the cause.

In 1912 a quilt was circulated to different suffrage meetings in Kansas.  The quilt was attributed to "Grandma McLain" of Santa Fe, Kansas.  She was a 92 year old suffragist; her  daughter, Clara Colburn, was active in the movement.  

No description of the quilt pattern or color was reported.

Flowers for Grandma

Sarah A. McLain (1821-1913) had nine children, six of whom had passed by 1913.  According to one newspaper report, she had actually pieced the suffrage quilt for the association and the top was sent out to be quilted.  

The quilt was "offered to the town who would donate the largest amount to the cause."  The quilt was reportedly sold in Liberal, Kansas in August. 

One article reported, "If the voters do their duty at the polls in November, Grandma hopes to be able to vote in the future."
A twentieth century quilt block, recently donated by Pam B. 
(Thanks Pam!)

Grandma did get her wish.  The Kansas referendum allowed women the right to vote in November of 1912!
Have a safe and happy day!
Stay healthy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Embroidery

One of the things that some suffrage branches did was have special clubs that women could join.  Embroidery in the early 20th century was still fairly popular (in contrast to quilting which lagged in certain areas and would gain momentum in a few years and explode during the depression).  In San Bernardino, California there was a very active suffrage embroidery club:
Here are some pieces that I found online of suffrage embroidery:

In Britain, one touching piece was made when suffragettes were imprisoned:

One article that provided an interesting insight was published in Arizona in 1906.  It doesn't provide anything factual about suffrage but it does reveal the writer's dismissive perspective of suffrage meetings.  The article was called "How to Stop Hazing" and called for a halt to hazing at West Point and the Naval Academy.  "The best way to stop hazing is to dismiss the hazed," the writer wrote.  "Let such creatures go to advocating woman's suffrage and discussing embroidery."  

I'm working away on quilt blocks that features work the suffragists women did in my home state in 1915.  I was particularly touched when one article relayed that farm women were donating their egg money to suffrage associations.  

I know from family tales how important egg money was to a woman.  In dark economic times, the money from the sales helped tide over the family.  During prosperity, the woman had a little cash to buy things like fabric or goodies for her children. I knew of an embroidery pattern I wanted to use for the this aspect of suffrage in 1915.  It's a pattern I had seen somewhere online; I added the ribbon on the bonnet. 

I hope you are staying safe and healthy!  If you have a project (knitting, sewing, or other) that you would like to share with the group, email me photos and a little blurb about what you are doing to

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week #2: Readers respond and Aunt Susan's Quilt

Good Morning!  Yesterday I received two emails from readers that I would like to share with you before I post about suffrage sewing.  What are you working on?  You can share your photos and story with us by emailing me at

Isn't this quilt fantastic?

My name is Madelon. I am a retired elementary teacher. I started this hand pieced basket quilt as I traveled back and forth to my hometown in Illinois during the 90’s. I collected and used fabrics from my mother, my friends, and my scrap pile. I am finally finishing the hand quilting on it by doing the borders. I used a basket pattern on some of the borders. One of my granddaughters will probably get this one. 

Here's one for us dog lovers from Sam (Samantha) C. :
My name is Sam and I have been sewing for about 10 years.  I work in eye care and love all the 20/20 jokes this year.  I have 2 dogs.  I love to sew, walk my dogs and bake for my hobbies.  Here is a dog quilt that I am working on.

Your projects made my day and I'm sure our readers will love seeing them too!

Now as for suffrage--did you know that Susan B. Anthony made a quilt?
She was affectionately referred to throughout the United States as "Aunt Susan" and was a leading force in the suffrage movement.  I've read articles that her first speech was at a quilting bee in Cleveland but haven't found much research to substantiate that claim.

Like most women, Susan learned to sew when she was a child.  One biography of Anthony said she was "noted for her skill with a needle."  Like most young girls during that time period, she made a sampler;  you can see her sampler here.

Anthony also made a Lemoyne star quilt in 1834 when she was 14 years old.  Perhaps you too remember a few years back when her quilt made news in quilting magazines.  Her quilt had become so fragile that a replica was made to be shown to the public.  You can look at the replica and read the story here and here.
A Lemoyne star quilt from my collection; the top was made circa 1840.

In 1900, a Pittsburgh newspaper reported that Aunt Susan's quilt was featured at a Suffrage Bazaar held in Madison Square Garden in New York at the Susan B. Anthony table, as well as many other family antiques.  It's not known how many other events the quilt accompanied the suffragist but perhaps that is why the quilt was so fragile later.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of us!  
Have a safe and healthy day!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week

Our display that we take to guilds for "By the Chimney No More."
Good morning!  I've declared this suffrage week as "sewing week."  Many of you are practicing social distance.  Some of my lectures are cancelled--all for March and many of them for April are already on hold until we see the status of COVID-19. 

This is a perfect time for quilters to sew: catch up on UFOS, use up scraps, and most of all, work on a Suffrage Centennial Quilt for our challenge.  And while I am mentioning the suffrage challenge, remember that the piece can be any size.  We decided last year that participants only needed to email a photo of their work to us by July 4, 2020.  I know that many of you are working on your project right now.

But if you are working on something else, that's okay too.  It's important to keep busy and feel you are accomplishing something these days.  For the next few weeks, I'd like to propose a side track during a suffrage year--one that our foremothers would have loved as we support each other.  

Are you working on a project?  Would you like to share it with the rest of us?  I'd be happy to post what you are working on and share it with the readers of this blog.  I feel like this blog has really allowed me to become more acquainted with many of you, it would be nice for some of you to learn about each other as well.  You can email me a photo and a little about yourself to and I'll post it on this blog to share with all the readers.  We have many things in common:  many of us sew, are interested in women's history and suffrage, others simply just like to learn.

Send me your photos and let's keep each other cheered up during this crisis.

Tomorrow I will post about a very special suffrage related quilt.  I'll be talking all week about different handwork suffragists did but I'm also sewing away here too.  

So here, I'll start:  I'm Michele and I'm an historian and lecturer in Pennsylvania.  I love poodles and gardening and quilting!  Last night I finished this piece.  It's made up of scraps from a quilt I made for my niece.  It's donation quilt for Camp Erin and I'm happy to have this one completed!
Stay well and have a good day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Women of Courage: Part 2

Suffragists had long maintained that the welfare of children as a main reason they wanted to vote.  In 1916, they exhibited that commitment again.

In June of 1916, a Polio epidemic erupted in Brooklyn and spread throughout the northeastern United States and the rest of the country.  "Infantile Paralysis" as it was called then, killed 6,000 people that year and most were children under the age of 5.  2,000 of the fatalities occurred in New York City alone.  About 21,000 other victims were left paralyzed.  Because the disease mainly attacked young children, amusement parks, pools, and playgrounds were closed.  Frantic parents from New York wanted desperately to get their children out of the city and harm's way because the disease was so contagious.

Because of the close proximity of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the city, special precautions were taken to inhibit a spread of the disease.  Health officials guarded the borders of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to prohibit children under the age of 15 or 16 to enter the state unless they had a certificate of health.  Movie theaters were closed to children under 16 in some counties here in Pennsylvania.

Sign from a rural area of NJ, July 1916

The headline preceded the news of the first fatality of the disease in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.  A 2 year old toddler named Tommy who was visiting from New Jersey passed away.  His family had a certificate of health for him but he didn't show symptoms until he visited the area.

In mid-July, the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association offered their full membership to the state boards of health to assist with the crisis.  The assertion of the suffragists was that they were already well organized and had members in every county.

"There is nothing in which the suffragists of Pennsylvania are more interested in than the health and welfare of infants.  Ours is largely an organization of mothers whose knowledge of children and the danger they face, even when there is no epidemic, is intimate," state Mrs. George Orlady, the President of the suffrage organization.

The women canvassed the state with information supplied by the board of health.  

In Pittsburgh, suffragists even investigated unsanitary conditions that might contribute to outbreaks.  Delaware County suffragists called for a "Permanent Relief Fund" to assist during times of health epidemics and collected money for families that were coping with the disease and quarantined (great idea--why not use it now?).  

Newspapers lauded the women for their commitment and promptness in their response to the crisis:  "Very apparently these women are interested in more than merely getting the vote," on newspaper reported.  The inclusion of the protection of children in suffrage idealism was by this time 68 years old.

The Pennsylvania suffragists weren't the only ones that assisted during the epidemic.  So too did women in New York like the suffragists of Nassau County, NY:

Map of the 1916 epidemic:

Polio outbreaks continued to plague the country until a vaccine was created by Jonas Salk in 1955; in 1961, an oral vaccine was created by Albert Sabin.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Women of Courage, Part 1

Are you in one of the states that has coronavirus?  We now have cases in Pennsylvania.  An engineer that works for my husband's company has it as well; he lives in Italy but reports say he is doing well.  How are you faring?

I am reminded of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic.  The first time I learned about this particular plague was when I was 12 or so and read Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter.  The novel made me uneasy and I remember I had a lot of questions for my father;  it surprised me to learn that unlike other flu viruses, this one impacted 20-40 year old people more than children or seniors.  Similar to the Spanish Influenza,  children seem to be more immune to the coronavirus than other viruses (at least as I write this).

The women of courage during the pandemic of 1918 were of course nurses.
The pandemic was so bad that often there wasn't room in the hospitals.  This actually happened to Katherine Anne Porter--the novel is based on her own experiences and loss--until her editor somehow managed to pull strings to get her a place.  Still she ended up being in a hallway of the hospital for care for 9 days until a bed was available.

Nurses not only cared for the ill in the hospital setting but also did community nursing for folks who could not get a spot.

Nurses also cared for the military overseas and here at training camps such as Camp Crane here in Allentown.  I've read that 272 nurses died overseas from the influenza.  Another article I read said about 1 in 95 nurses died from the flu; 1 out of 148 medical officers died of the flu most likely because they did not provide the hands on care like nurses.  

I've found some articles that cite that women were the true heroes during this pandemic and that their work contributed to the passing of the 19th Amendment two years later.  I just want to say that women had also proven themselves (again) during World War 1 and I will be devoting a whole week to women's war relief efforts in April.

Here are some articles you might find interesting:

Stay well dear readers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Elusive B. M. Boye Part 2

Bertha Margaret Boye spent her lifetime creating art.  Despite all the accolades and exhibits she did, the only image that I can find of her work is her suffrage poster.
One of the challenges in writing about women is that often, their work was not valued after they died.  Even today as I research local suffragists, it surprises me that so few of their obituaries mention their suffrage work.  

One writer speculated that the woman figure in the suffrage poster was Mexican American and that her cloak was Native American tribal garb.  I haven't found any proof to support that theory.

Bertha's image remains unlike other suffrage illustrations:

There is a spirituality and serenity in her poster; it defies the  stereotypes often used by Antis.

I often refer to Bertha's suffrage poster as "Our Lady of Suffrage" because it reminds me of the statues of the Blessed Mary that were often in the gardens of members of my family.
 I don't know what faith Bertha practiced but I do know that she was active in St. Mary's Catholic church in Ukiah.  She assisted with chaperoning and organizing a girls club called the "League of the Little Flower" at the church.  In 1924, it was reported "she was devoting her time for the next few months, in designing figures and placques for the niches in the new St. Mary's Catholic Church.
The church is now a school of performing arts.
I think she would like that.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Elusive B. M. Boye Part 1

Those of you who have seen my Storytime Stiches program are aware of my fondness for women artists and illustrators.  One reason I'm so passionate about this subject is because women were excluded from the fine arts for so many centuries.  Because there is not much available about this particular artist, I wrote an especially lengthy post about her life.  Today is part one.

Probably the most popular suffrage poster was created by Bertha Margaret Boye (1883-1930).

This piece was the winning entry for a California suffrage poster contest in 1911 and part of the successful campaign for women's suffrage in that state.  Berth was born in Oakland, California but grew up primarily in San Francisco.

She was a gifted artist, a bit of a recluse, and most importantly, she knew the value of her work.  I suspect she was one of those  artists who was married to her work.  In college, when the school newspaper chose to publish one of her illustrations, she insisted on being paid $25 for her artwork.  This made headlines in the Oakland Tribune.  Unlike other women artists who were often exploited, Bertha stood firm and understood the value of her work.

A year later in 1906, Bertha was commissioned to do a sculpture H. P. Baldwin a well known businessman in Hawaii.  The drinking fountain, completed in 1907, memorialized Baldwin's late grandson.  Hawaiian newspapers described the fountain as a child holding a cup:  "The design and execution of the fountain are extremeley graceful, the child's contour showing good expression."  Later references to this work indicated that she had received much acclaim in the art world for the piece.  I just wish I could find a photo of it.

Artistic losses occurred for Berths during the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 when all her work was lost.  She continued to work after she found a new studio and was a member of the Sketch Club (later renamed the San Francisco Women Artists).  She exhibited frequently with this group and in 1909 illustrated a children's book called Dotty Seaweed.  I've never found a copy of this particular book but shortly afterwards, she did illustrations for a book entitled Jingles for Singles, a romantic and sentimental version of nursery rhymes.

Bertha's work continued to be exhibited and in 1911, her suffrage poster was submitted to the College Suffragists for Design; her piece won the $50 prize and was featured in California department stores along with suffrage flags and Equality Tea.

In the same year, Bertha won another poster contest (and $100) for the San Francisco Fall Fashion show.
One interesting aspect of this piece is that Bertha had hidden her phone number, 5062, somewhere in the piece.  

Her work continued to receive accolades and interest.  In 1912 she travelled to Europe where she studied art and sculpture in Munich, French art academies and even with Anders Zorn, a well known sculptor and artist from Sweden.

By 1919, Bertha had moved to Ukiah, California and set up a studio and private art school.  It was a secluded setting for an artist but she later explained her reasons to a reporter:

"I did things several years ago.  A memorial fountain for a man in Honolulu, some illustrating and I exhibted a few things in San Francisco but after my return from Europe I came here to rest and was charmed by the place and, while Intend doing some work for the public--for I feel the urge to go ahead--I enjoy the prolonged rest, my class of children, my Indian models, and maybe most of all--the privilege to keep my little family of animals thtat I love and enjoy so much in modeling."

Bertha had a special relationship with the local Native American population who also appeared to be very protective of her when outsiders sought to meet her.  A special exhibit of her work was featured at a local residence:  "Miss Bertha Boye's group of Indian figures and a few of her studies of Indian life were shown.  The work all bears the distinct touch of the true artist executed in designs not before made and the work made a tremendous impression on the visitors.  To add to the pleasure of the event Miss Boye was there in person to meet the guest."

A rare photo of Bertha.
In 1923, a special exhibit featured Bertha and well known artist Jennie V. Cannon, another California artist.

A year later, her work was featured in Paris:
Bertha had become ill in 1927 and did not return to Ukiah until May of 1928.

In 1930, Bertha traveled again to Europe to tour and study.  She was in Madrid in April but in September passed away suddenly in France.

More on Bertha tomorrow!