Week 1: The Adventure Begins

This semester, I will be completing an independent study in material culture under the direction of Professor Cristina Turdean, my advisor in the Historic Preservation Department. Planning began over the summer, when I reached out to Washington Heritage Museums (a nonprofit organization that operates four museums in Fredericksburg, VA) and explained my interest in researching one of the understudied objects in their collections. Executive Director Anne Darron recommended a quilt at the Rising Sun Tavern Museum which was backed with handwritten papers and believed to date to the 1790s. I discussed the idea with Professor Turdean and it was deemed a suitable project for an independent study.

I did some preliminary reading over the summer about antique quilts, relying primarily on The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort by Roderick Kiracofe and Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff. I also joined the American Quilt Study Group and began reading published papers concerning quilts as objects of material culture. During the first week of classes, Professor Turdean and I discussed my goals for the project, and what its scope might be. Would it be a focused on a single quilt or the many quilts in the Tavern’s collection? Would the quilt or quilts ultimately provide sufficient information to conduct a deeper study of their cultural significance? If not, what would become the thesis of the project? As always, there is ever so much to do.



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