South Dakota Quilt and Quiltmakers by Mary Reecy Fitzgerald.
Quilts warm our bodies on winter nights and tug on our memories around the year. It is this later quality, connecting the quilt and quilter with our history that motivated Mary Fitzgerald of Dell Rapids, South Dakota to embark on a six-year project to document 1,145 quilts found in public and private collections around the state. The revealing research and phenomenal stories resulted in a 240-page hardcover book—South Dakota Quilts and Quiltmakers.
Along with exquisite color photographs, this massive research project tells the stories of 99 South Dakota quilts and their makers. It is a story that stitches together not only the quilts’ designs and patterns, but also threads together the history of the quiltmakers and the frontier state.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Quilts from the western part of the state dated before 1920 were brought to South Dakota by their owners. Conversely, the
pre-1920 quilts from East River were made in South Dakota. Quilt construction peaked in the 1930's, corresponding with prolific quilt making nationwide. When more homemakers started working in the factories in the 1940's, quilt production dropped 20 percent.
To make the South Dakota Quilt Documentation Project manageable, only quilts made before 1970 were examined and documented.
Volunteers accepted quilts at 37 sites with cooperating museums becoming the primary sites. The men and women who brought in the 1,145 quilts were quietly proud of the work and memories of their families. As they filled out forms detailing the quilt’s construction and history as well as the quiltmaker’s life, the volunteers and quilt owners laughed, chatted and admired the quilts before them.
As you peruse the pages of South Dakota Quilts and Quilltmakers, you will get that same sense of camaraderie and connection to past generations.
You will find this book to be both an historical view of South Dakota through the eyes of its quilts and quiltmakers and a legacy of art and design left by the women who helped settle the prairie.