Stitching Settler Identities: Canadian Quilts and Their Makers, 1800-1880
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Stitching Settler Identities: Canadian Quilts and their Makers, 1800-1880 explores the making, use, and circulation of handmade settler quilts as representation of nineteenth-century women’s social, cultural and economic histories in Canada. An important part of Canadian settlement history is the making and use of handmade quilts in the settler homestead. Handmade coverlets that provided both physical and emotional warmth in the home were a measure of a settler-woman’s careful management of resources and a display of her innovation and creativity. Few settler women recorded their daily experiences; however, most women could sew and quilts offered a method of expression that allowed them to reflect and portray their identities. Thus far, the few studies of quilts have been limited to exhibition catalogues or research that considers a quilt’s aesthetics or its historic significance. While several scholars have called for a reclassification of textile production and needle arts to advance the way in which settler women were viewed as social beings – creating, producing, communicating, and circulating cultural values, most studies on quilts have overlooked a coverlet’s materiality. This study aims to expand the research on quilts as material culture within the context of art history by also considering a quilt’s materiality and when possible, its maker's biography.