I have a family history of family history. We have letters from the Civil War. We had a wool cape from the Revolutionary War (it’s in a museum in Vermont now). We had a drummer boy’s uniform from the War of 1812. And furniture—I have furniture made by and owned by my ancestors. My dad became a genealogist extraordinaire, researching his and my mother’s ancestry four or five centuries and writing books about these farmers, politicians and pioneers.
Growing up with all this personal history around me made me value many things that my friends didn’t. For me, history isn’t just dates in books and on tests. History is my family’s stories. It’s the homesteads that were built, the births, the weddings, the funerals and the lives that continued through the events recorded in the family bibles. These were real people, not just names in books. I feel a connection to them—through the bed they slept in, the letter they wrote, the desk they built and the christening gown they wore.
One of my absolute favorite treasures is a crazy quilt made by my ancestors who were sisters, seamstresses in Vermont. It’s got to be the most extraordinary crazy quilt I’ve ever seen! And guess who has that fabric-love running through her blood? Oh, yes!!!
This valuing of history has, I’m sure, influenced me to create memory quilts and story quilts to help preserve other people’s stories. Modern technology has done away with records of a great deal of our written personal correspondence and piles of pictures. I think making something that captures snippets of cloth, pictures and memories will help today’s families give their ancestors something to remember them by.
For those interested in this amazing quilt, I’ll be posting more photos and further descriptions of its history and the techniques used to make it. And yes, crazy quilting is one of my specialties, too!