Sunday, May 7, 2023

Searching for Frances Perkins' Quilt Collection

 I've written about Frances Perkins before, read here.  She was the first woman cabinet and really the architect of many of the programs of the New Deal.  A great book on her is:

I found this book fascinating and so did Beth and my friend Chris.  So I thought I knew a lot about her life and accomplishments but then I found an old newspaper article entitled "'Hobbies' of the Great and Near Great" published in 1933.  It was the height of The Depression and I'm sure it was the kind of article to just provide some entertainment during those dark days.  No I didn't know that FDR collected stamps (doesn't surprise me much) but I found it interesting that roller skating was surfacing as a new "hobby" or activity.  But what stopped me dead in my tracks was that Frances Perkins collected quilts.

There wasn't any photographs in the article but a nice illustration of Frances Perkins:

The article goes on to state:  "Patchwork quilts happen to attract the fancy of Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor.  She has a fine collection of old quilts.  Her first one was a pink and white copperplate patchwork quilt, given to her twenty years ago by a grandmother who lived in Boston.  Miss Perkins, a New Englander, has a summer home in Maine, a prized hide-away where the busy Cabinet member, accompanied by her family has been wont to go during the hot months to indulge her love for outdoor life."

Now in case you are wondering what a pink and white copperplate fabric might look like, here's an antique piece from Colonial Williamsburg:

The Met has a nice article on the process here.

Still, I have to say that I haven't found a single online site that can show me the quilts that were in Perkins' collection.  Have you any idea?

But here's the other thing...a lot of women have made quilts honoring Frances Perkins' accomplishments.  You can google her and quilts to see some of these stunning beauties.  As a quilt collector, I'm betting she would have liked that.

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. Boy, I would buy some of that beautiful pink and white copperplate (toile) fabric in a heartbeat. Love the shade of pink.

  2. Where in Maine was her home? I am fascinated by her and need to read that book. I was born in Reading PA but lived the last 40 years in New England, now on Peaks Island, near Portland ME