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Mary Gasperik

Quiltmaker

  Chicago, Illinois, United States    

Susan Salser

Mary Gasperik made more than 80 quilts while living in Chicago at the height of the quilt revival of the 1930s and 40s.
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Mary Gasperik fits into a very important historic period of immigration, growth, and American experience. Mariska Mihalovits was born in Hungary in 1888. At the age of 16, she immigrated from rural Transylvania to the United States with her sister. She was recorded at Ellis Island as Mariska, the Hungarian form of the English name Mary. She remained in Chicago and became an American citizen. She married fellow Hungarian Stephen Gasperik in 1906, and raised three children: Stephen, Elsie and Elmer.

At the age of 45, Gasperik encountered quilts for the first time at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. With help from a local quilt club, she quickly adapted her already well-developed needlework skills to quiltmaking. She then devoted her life to that most American form of needlework - quiltmaking; though her quilts very much reflect her Hungarian roots. Thus, she left an incredible record in material culture at a time when few women left such records for study and research. These quilts and her story are not just important for quilt history, but also for women's history and for American history.

Read How I Researched the Mary Gasperik Collection by Susan Salser, here.
Notes on The Detroit News Quilt Club columns are here.

Was the maker a woman, man or a group?

Female

When was the quiltmaker born?

1888

Ethnic background/tribal affiliation:

Hungarian

Quiltmaker's maiden name:

Mihalovits

Spouse's/Spouses' name(s):

Gasperik, Stephen

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