Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair/the Sears National Quilt Contest and Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition

by Merikay Waldvogel

Other authorsBarbara Brackman (Author)
Paperback, 1993



Call number




Rutledge Hill Pr (1993), Edition: 1st Edition, 123 pages


"Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair is the story of the largest quilt exhibition ever organized: the Sears National Quilt Contest held in 1933 during Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. The result of several years' research, the book presents a thoughtful picture of quiltmaking in the early twentieth century and of what happened when the art of quiltmaking collided with commercial opportunism." "Attracting quilters nationwide, the Sears contest offered a grand prize of $1,200 for what was to be America's champion quilt; total prize money would be $7,500. More than 25,000 quilts were entered in local and regional contests nationwide, and the 30 winners from those contents were put on public display in the Sears Pavilion at the fair." "The contest was not without its controversy. When it was announced, rules stated that preference would be given to quilts which developed the Century of Progress theme. However, when the prizes were awarded, commemorative quilts were ignored in favor of traditional patterns. Disgruntled contestants complained to Sears that the judges were biased in favor of tradition." "The winning quilt, called the Unknown Star, was entered by Margaret Rogers Caden of Lexington, Kentucky. Much of the work on Ms. Caden's quilt was done by seamstresses who sewed for hire, in violation of contest rules." "Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair traces and beautifully illustrates the developments of the contest. Included are biographical sketches of the quiltmakers; interviews with several of the women who helped make the grand champion quilt; careful documentation of materials, method of construction, and history of each quilt in the book; illustrations from promotional materials for the fair, quilt owners, newspapers, books, and magazines of the period; and appendices listing contest winners at local, regional, and national levels." "Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair is a remarkable work that shows the importance of quiltmaking in women's lives during the first third of the twentieth century."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jlapac
I love history of quiltmaking books because of the stories of the people. This book is one of the reasons I always put labels on my quilts. I also like looking at the old patterns and thinking about people making some of the patterns with crazy angles.

Update 9/20/2010: The University of Nebraska at
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Lincoln International Quilt Study Center now has a vidcast up that talks about this book and recent discoveries of additional quilts. Merikay Waldvogel narrates the vidcast and shows photos of quilts found after the book was published. She also tells stories and scandals about the makers and the quilts. Well worth a listen. I found it on iTunes.
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Original language


Physical description

123 p.; 11 inches


1558532579 / 9781558532571
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