Crazy Quilt

April, 2009

Crazy Quilt

Mary T. Willard
Crazy Quilt

Dated 1889
Evanston, Illinois
Ardis and Robert James Collection, 1997.007.0318

This wool crazy quilt was made for Frances Willard by her mother, Mary T. Willard. Because the year cross-stitched on the quilt corresponds with the year of Frances's fiftieth birthday (28 September 1889), the quilt presumably was a fiftieth birthday present. Frances Willard was a pivotal figure in the United States suffrage and temperance movements. In 1874 she became the national president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the largest women's organization in the United States. She led the WCTU in its campaign for social reforms such as prohibition, women's right to vote, and home protection.

Many of the fabrics included on the quilt have floral designs and scriptural quotations embroidered on them. The message of this quilt is reflected not only in the Biblical verses but also in the floral designs it incorporates: the daisies may represent innocence; the lilacs, humility; and the violets, fidelity.