Official Nebraska Government Website Nebraska State Historical Society

Patchwork Lives

The Nebraska State Historical Society and
the International Quilt Study Center present

Patchwork Lives


The historic quilts in this exhibit reflect social, political, and artistic changes that occurred from the 1850s to the 1920s. Quilts provided warm bedding for families, but also served as a means of self-expression through which hopes, memories, and beliefs were communicated. Patterns came from a variety of places, yet the individual maker's artistry can be seen in the choice of materials, arrangement of color, and skill of piecing. Drawn from the collections of the International Quilt Study Center and the Nebraska State Historical Society, these quilts provide examples of how women strove to achieve beauty and structure in the midst of change.

Inspiring the Future

How do you think quilters from the past would feel if they knew their work was being displayed in a museum? Most quilt makers know that the piece they are creating will live beyond them, but did they understand the lasting legacy of their handiwork? The work of quilters past continues to inspire quilt makers today-these contemporary quilts pay tribute to the artistry and workmanship seen in the historic quilts in this exhibit.

A Tribute to Pioneer Women
Ginny Landkamer, Lincoln, Nebraska
47.5" x 47.5"
International Quilt Study Center, Nebraska State Quilt Guild, 200l.005.0003

A Tribute to Pioneer Women was the Nebraska State Quilt Guild Quasquicentennial Quilt Contest Winner in 1992. The figure in the center, looking out over the rolling hills of the prairie, is framed by a border containing embroidered images of pioneer life. The objects, including a plow, windmill, log cabin, and kitchen stove are set within an interwoven barbed wire design. The central focus is enclosed within log cabin blocks and edged with Prairie Points, a triangular binding.

Neihardt's Months of the Year
Edith Darling, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska
93" x 76.75"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Cliff's Notes, Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska

This quilt depicts Edith Darling's interpretation of John G. Neihardt's descriptions of the months of the year as presented in his book, Black Elk Speaks. Darling designed, hand-appliquéd, and embroidered this quilt for the Nebraska Educational Television annual fundraising auction in 1979. Women of the United Presbyterian Church of Morrill, Nebraska, did the quilting. Cliff's Notes, Inc. of Lincoln purchased the quilt and donated it to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

The Promise
Paulette Peters, Elkhorn, Nebraska
72" x 72"
On loan to International Quilt Study Center from the artist

The Promise, was a finalist representing the state of Nebraska in the Great American Quilt Contest sponsored by the Museum of American Folk Art in 1986 to commemorate the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. A newly arrived immigrant family gazes toward the rolling hills of the American frontier. A bright sky is rich with the promise of freedom and prosperity.

History of the Covered Wagon States
Mildred Bradstreet Stevens, Nebraska
Completed 1960
87" x 76"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Sylvia A. Stevens, Apache Junction, Arizona

Mildred Bradstreet Stevens, born and raised in Holt County, completed this quilt in 1960. It is based on a quilt pattern, History of the Covered Wagon States, featured in seventeen weekly installments in the Omaha World Herald in the 1930s.

Museum Exhibits

Patchwork Lives

Inspiring the Future


Building a Home


Providing Income


Showing Off

 Brochure PDF

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Last updated 28 October 2005  

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