Tuesday, July 31, 2012

“Made by the Women of Haverhill” A Crazy Quilt, c. 1895

Reproduced with permission from the blog SilkDamask:

crazy quilt n.

   1. A patchwork quilt of pieces of cloth of various shapes, colors, and sizes, sewn together in an irregular pattern.
   2. A disorderly mixture; a hodgepodge

I must confess that I am not generally a fan of the "crazy quilt" but this particular one captured my eye and my imagination. There is a lush, almost regal quality to the fabrics and the various monograms of the women who created the quilt. In fact, the letters are reminiscent of the "floriated" letters of Medieval illuminated manuscripts - richly and abundantly embellished, starting off the page or the story.

Indeed, more than a number of other quilts viewed over many years, it is the combination of the monograms with the survival of dozens of handwritten labels, pinned onto the patchwork, which seem to suggest a storied pattern from the past.

Haverhill is a small town in northern New Hampshire, parts of the landscape roll down into fields and farm lands to the Connecticut River and one can view Vermont from several vistas. Next year, 2013 will be one of celebration as the town commemorates its 250th anniversary, along with its twin, across the river, Newbury, VT. By the time the women of Haverhill crafted this vibrant piece around 1895, the hamlet had passed its glory days - the days of extensive hustle and bustle of factories -- wood and grist mills, distillery, tannery and carriage manufacture. The activity which surrounded the court sessions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, turning every home lining the graceful double common into a hostelry sheltering visitors from around the region, passed by. It was the railway which made its stop in nearby Woodsville, excluding the Oliverian and Haverhill Corner, which dealt the most serious blow. But the families held on.

At the moment, the author has yet to uncover what event prompted the making of the quilt, but it was donated to the Haverhill Historical Society in 1978 by Nan Batchelder Boyer, and how appreciative one is of this gift.

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D.
University of New Hampshire
Consulting Curator

Ariel Myers, Plymouth State University
Collections Intern

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pink Granite Grange Quilt

As part of HHS ongoing Collections Care initiative, consulting curator Dr. Kimberly Alexander and Collections Intern Ariel Myers recently examined a quilt from North Haverhill. Dating to about 1928, it is an autograph quilt from the Pink Granite Grange, founded in 1894.

Despite the fact that some portions are damaged, it is nonetheless a significant reminder of local gatherings and pride in achievement. It features the "autographs" of both men and women and couples. (A list of names is available in the HHS.) Centrally located within a square of pink and red cherries, is the inscription seen in the image at right. The quilt reveals who pieced the quilt and who wrote the autographs for participants. Further, there are welcomes and greetings from the several committees including the Agriculture Committee. While the layout of the squares is deceptively simple, the use of visually strong printed cotton patterns of the 1920s is what makes the quilt so visually compelling. The graphic strength of the black and white prints juxtaposed with the pale lavenders, pinks, and blues harmonize to create an attractive whole.

Several other quilts, including a "crazy quilt" survive in the HHS collection and will be the subject of future posts.

If you are interested in contemporary quilts, don't forget to visit the North Haverhill Fair and the Stoddard Building for excellent examples by 4H youth this week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recent Donation

Reprint: The Address of Abraham Lincoln, delivered at Gettysburg Cemetery, 1920 

The copy of an address from Abraham Lincoln was a recent donation to the Haverhill Historical Society of New Hampshire from Peter Keyes, Vice President of the organization.

Delivered by Mr. Keyes at the consecration of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on February 14th, 1920, the document contains a quote from the Lincoln regarding dedicating a portion of the battle field at Gettysburg as a memorial and a grave to the brave soldiers who fought there during the Civil War.

We thank Peter Keyes for his especially timely donation as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Ariel Myers, Collections Intern

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Day at the Museum

As part of the HHS collections care initiative, Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D., UNH, and intern Ariel Myers, PSU, will periodically share items of interest to the members and the public that have caught their attention. A sampling from 8 July 2012:

A wooden boot form, c. mid-late 19th century. Gift of John Page.

"Spasmodic" early alarm clock, 1889. Patented and made by Doe Brothers of Woodsville and Newbury. Still works!

Detail, license to sell "merchandise, wines and spirits" granted to Thomas Morse and signed by John Montgomery and Ezra Bartlett, 1814.