wedding quilt in cabin

Symbol of Joy and Responsibility: Wedding Quilt

Author: Brittany B. Joachim

Weddings are a time of celebration, joining of families, and of course, presents. Specifically, gifts for the newlywed’s home. On a wooden rope bed in the museum lays just such a present, a quilt given to newlyweds Eliza Spencer and E. Higley. We may safely assume they married in the year 1900, as that is stitched in the middle of the quilt. Quilting is an old art that served the physical needs of the home as well as the social needs of 

close up of bride's name on the quilt
Name of bride, Eliza Spencer

women. Wedding quilts encompass both of these.  


The word quilt comes from a Latin word meaning “stuffed sack” and indeed that embodies what a quilt basically is. For the Europeans in the early United States, quilting was a necessity for warmth. These “stuffed sacks” helped trap heat and allowed the sleeper to stay warm on cold nights. Quilts were also an opportunity for the women of the community to get together. Quilting bees served as both a way for the women of the community to get together for social enjoyment and also accomplish work. Several quilts often got completed at these bees. Sometimes these bees also served the purpose of providing items for the celebration. Women created special quilts for friendship, weddings, and other important occasions. 

close up of groom's name on the quilt
Name of groom, E. Higley

Wedding quilts not only reminded the bride of the joy of her marriage but her responsibilities as a new wife and the one in charge of the home. Wreaths, rings, and flowers decorated many wedding quilts. The quilt served as a duel message for the bride-to-be. She was responsible for everything in the home as well as passing on this skill to her daughters. Mothers sometimes created designs and passed them down to their daughters. By the time this quilt was created, quilting for practical had ceased with industrialization. Still, women gathered together to create quilts for special occasions and socialization, especially in rural communities.  


Phillips, Brenda D. "Women's Studies in the Core Curriculum: Using Women's Textile Work to Teach 
Women's Studies and Feminist Theory." Feminist Teacher 9, no. 2 (1995): 89-92. Accessed June 21, 2020.

"Wedding Quilts." Off Our Backs 3, no. 5 (1973): 13. Accessed June 21, 2020.

a painting of a quilting bee from the mid-19th century
Weistling, Morgan. "The Quilting Bee, 19th Century Americana." Picture This! Framing and Gallery.

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