A Stitch in Time: The Needlework of Aging Women in Antebellum America
By: Aimee E. Newell (author)Paperback
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Drawing from 167 examples of decorative needlework - primarily samplers and quilts from 114 collections across the United States - made by individual women aged forty years and over between 1820 and 1860, this exquisitely illustrated book explores how women experienced social and cultural change in antebellum America. The book is filled with individual examples, stories, and over eighty fine color photographs that illuminate the role that samplers and needlework played in the culture of the time. For example, in October 1852, Amy Fiske (1785 - 1859) of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, stitched a sampler. But she was not a schoolgirl making a sampler to learn her letters. Instead, as she explained, \u201cThe above is what I have taken from my sampler that I wrought when I was nine years old. It was w[rough]t on fine cloth [and] it tattered to pieces. My age at this time is 66 years.\u201d Situated at the intersection of women's history, material culture study, and the history of aging, this book brings together objects, diaries, letters, portraits, and prescriptive literature to consider how middle-class American women experienced the aging process.
Chapters explore the physical and mental effects of \u201cold age\u201d on antebellum women and their needlework, technological developments related to needlework during the antebellum period and the tensions that arose from the increased mechanization of textile production, and how gift needlework functioned among friends and family members. Far from being solely decorative ornaments or functional household textiles, these samplers and quilts served their own ends. They offered aging women a means of coping, of sharing and of expressing themselves. These \u201cthreads of time\u201d provide a valuable and revealing source for the lives of mature antebellum women.
Aimee E. Newell is director of collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts.
* Acknowledgments * Introduction * Chapter 1 The Physical Challenges of Needlework * Chapter 2 Growing Old Gracefully * Chapter 3 The Technological Reshaping of Antebellum Needlework * Chapter 4 I Give and Bequeath This Quilt: Needlework as Property * Chapter 5 Family Currency: The Gift Needlework of Aging Women * Chapter 6 Biographical Needlework: Telling a Life Story * Chapter 7 Threads of Life: Needlework as Memorial * Conclusion * Appendix: Decorative Needlework Made by Women Forty or Over between 1820 and 1860 * Notes * Bibliography * Index
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- ID: 9780821420522
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