Well Being

Quilts for Disasters, the 1860s & Now

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As I’ve researched for my children’s book, Papa’s Gone to War, concerning the Civil War era, I discovered that women then, as they do now, made quilts during times of disaster. Quilters are responding to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina by providing quilts for those who need bed coverings, especially for children who might be comforted by their own “blankie” when all around them is new and strange, or wrought with destruction.

During the Civil War, women made various items for the soldiers away from home. Among these were quilts the soldiers carried in their bed roll. Chief among the organizations collecting quilts and distributing them to soldiers on the battlefield and in hospitals was the United States Sanitary Commission.

The Commission coordinated many of the clothing and bedding collection activities. This organization was begun in New York City at Cooper Union or Cooper Institute. Their Soldiers' Relief Circles met throughout the Union, generally once a week, from 1 to 4 P.M. The ladies also did more work at home.

(In my book, Mandy, her grandmother, aunt, and several other ladies got together to work on quilts for their menfolk. A scene in my book takes place at a quilting/sewing session. I even may include a pattern in the book for youngsters to sew, as Mandy did.)

As you make quilts for use and commemoration (some groups raffle quilts to raise money for disaster victims) during times of trouble, you’re part of a long line of quilters who respond to help those in need by using their needlework skills.

(If you have any questions or information to share, e-mail me at: me.allen@juno.com. Put the words Quilt Blog in the subject line.)