Quilt of the Month


October 2012

October 2012

UNL Palladian Society Quilt
Made in Lincoln, Nebraska
Circa 1921
69 x 74.5 inches
Embroidered, 8-12 QSPI
IQSCM 1998.004.0001

Extensive research of this University of Nebraska quilt has brought to light an amazing amount of information about individuals and activities at the University at the time of its creation. It has, however, also proved frustrating, as no conclusive evidence of the maker of the quilt or the purpose behind its creation has been found. The link between those who signed blocks for the quilt is their membership, in the early 1920s, in the Palladian Literary Society (PLS), a student organization founded in 1871 at the Lincoln campus.

Two possible theories for the quilt’s creation have been proposed by scholars. The first possibility is that the quilt honored the work of Harriett Wyman Wilder, whose name is featured in the quilt’s center. Wyman taught in the Engineering Department and became an honorary member of the PLS in 1920. She left in 1921 for missionary work in Madura, India, and married shortly thereafter.

The second theory is that PLS members made the quilt to celebrate the Society’s 50th anniversary and to raise funds for a Research Fellowship in Philosophy honoring Harry Kirke Wolfe. Wolfe, an 1882 UNL graduate, former member of the PLS, and Professor of Philosophy, was greatly admired by many students. He died suddenly in 1918, prompting PLS members to create a scholarship in his honor.