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Sewing for Bucks: 19th Century Community Fundraising

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In 19th century America, women who wanted to help fundraise for their church or community were limited in what they, as respectable women, could do. With most of their skills related to homemaking, making baked goods and needlework that could be sold, raffled, or auctioned conformed to the accepted gender roles at the time.

I have recently learned about a form of fundraising that put a twist on the traditional signature quilt—a quilt that has the names of loved ones embroidered, inked, or stamped on the blocks as a memorial for friends and family who were separated. In this case, though, donors would make a small contribution to have their names added to a block much like today’s Buy-A-Brick campaigns. Often the finished quilt was publicly displayed and then auctioned to maximize revenue.

b2ap3_thumbnail_QUilt_1890.jpgThe quilt at the right is a fundraising signature quilt made by the Ladies Social Circle, M.E. Church, Keota, IA, in 1890. For $3.00 a business could have an ad on the quilt and individuals could get their signature on it for 10 cents. (Source: Wilson Memorial Library)

As you probably know, antique quilts are quite collectible but these fundraising signature quilts are particularly rare and highly prized as works of art and historical documents.

Learn more and see pics!

World Quilts: The American Story

The Quilt Index: The Signature Quilt Project

WonkyWorld: Fundraising Quilts

Wisconsin Historical Museum: Fundraising Quilts

Quilting for a Cause (JournalStar Slideshow)

Fundraising Quilt Ideas (Megan Fraser on Pinterest)


Main blog image: Detail of fundraising quilt by the Ladies Aid Society, 1938. Image Source: Wisconsin Historical Society
Tagged in: Fundraising History

For me, fundraising and communications go together like peanut butter and jelly – delicious & filling!

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