October 15, 2013

The American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Charleston, South Carolina

Members of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) held their annual Seminar, which occurs in a different location each year, in Charleston, South Carolina, September 18-23.  The AQSG is an organization of approximately 1,000 quilt and textile enthusiasts including researchers, folklorists, historians, dealers, appraisers, collectors, designers, educators, museum personnel, restorers/conservators, and, of course, quilt makers.  (For more about the group, see the description at left.)

Broad Street, Charleston, South Carolina, 2010.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons,
author Khanrak.
In Charleston, we were blessed with glorious weather consisting of mild temperatures, low humidity, and lovely soft breezes blowing in from the sea.  Over 250 members were in attendance to listen to original research papers, engage in roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, view the quilts that were hung for the event, attend focused Study Centers, network with one another, partake of the local cuisine, and enjoy city, museum and plantation tours.
A break during  research paper presentations.  Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
Some of Charleston's earliest settlers were a small number of English Quakers who arrived there in the late 1600s and established a burying ground on Archdale Square. In 1696, they built a small meeting house.  As Charleston's Quaker population dwindled during the 18th century, this property was neglected and was deeded to the Society of Friends in Philadelphia in 1812.  It burned in the Queen Street fire of 1837 and was not replaced, although a brick meeting house was erected on the property in 1856 by the Society of Friends in Philadelphia to secure the property.  In 1861, this too burned to the ground.  The property was purchased by the City of Charleston from the Society of Friends in Philadelphia in 1968 and the land was used for a parking garage.  The burials on the property were relocated during the construction of the garage.
Map showing the "Quaker Meeting House" west of the walled city in 1711.  From
 Edward Crisp,"A Compleat Description of the Province of Carolina in 3 Parts, 1711.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A visit to the Charleston Museum's exhibition of quilts and quilt storage area revealed no quilts attributed to makers or recipients known as Quakers.  But the early history of the city was represented by a plethora of chintz broderie perse, pieced, and whole-cloth beauties too beautiful not to share on this blog.  Click on the following Charleston Museum link for a sampling of their quilt collection: http://www.charlestonmuseum.org/mobile/textilesgallery-botanical.html.
Adding to our chintz indulgence were two excellent, informative, and illustrated research presentations by Merikay Waldvogel (whose paper topic was "Printed Panels from Chintz Quilts: Their Origin and Use") and Sharon Fulton Pinka (who presented her paper, "Lowcountry Chintz: The Townsend/Pope Quilt Legacy").
More than one member was heard saying that all of the paper presentations were wonderful this year!  The other papers presented were "Adirondack Quilts and Comforters: A Regional Study" by Hallie E. Bond, "The 'Cooish' Rescue of the Quilt in Harry Kelly's Cottage" by Dr. Cheryl Cheek, and "Alabama Cotton and Bemis Bags: Pieced into Quilt History" by Sarah Bliss Wright.  These excellent papers are all published in AQSG's research publication for this year titled Uncoverings 2013.  Check the AQSG web site for information about obtaining the publication. 
This year's Seminar was a special one and we thank its organizers and the friendly people of Charleston for an unforgettable experience.
Information about the early Quakers in Charleston was provided by The Preservation Society of Charleston at http://www.halseymap.com/Flash/window-print.asp?HMID=60.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2013.

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