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Colonial Quilting Bee; Colonial Quilting Bee, The Betsy Ross Quilt
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Cite this Quilt
Gasperik, Mar. Colonial Quilting Bee. 1935-1940. From Mary Gasperik Legacy Project, Mary Gasperik Private Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=18-14-5. Accessed: 10/17/21
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DESCRIPTION OF ESSAY: Paragraph length description of the object.
Considered one of her masterpiece quilts, Colonial Quilting Bee is a prime example of Gasperik's fine embroidery and quilting skills. However, it is not an original design. Two of the appliqué designs for the seated quilters originated with the Detroit News Quilt Club, organized by Edith Crumb. Arranging the quilters around a central quilt frame was not Gasperik's idea either. Mrs. Arthur Miller of Detroit had made a similar quilt and Mary probably saw it on display in 1935, the first Detroit quilt show Mary attended. A November 7, 1936 Detroit News quilt column indicates "Mrs. Arthur Miller has had a letter from Mrs. Mary Gasperick [sic], one of our Chicago members..." The Miller quilt reappeared at the May, 1940 Detroit Quilt show, where it won third prize to Gasperik's second prize award (for the quilt called Hungarian Girls). It is quite likely that Gasperik got patterns for making Colonial Quilting Bee from Miller.
ESSAY: Essay about this quilt or image object.
This particular quilt, of all the Gasperik quilts, is the one most directly and powerfully associated with The Detroit News Quilt Club, and The Detroit News Quilt Contest and Show. Mary discovered these, and their creator Edith B. Crumb, by picking up a newspaper at a Tigers/Cubs World Series game in Chicago on October 4, 1935. She sent in her membership coupon, sent some quilts, and took a bus to Detroit to be there in person for the October 18-20, 1935 (3rd) Detroit Quilt Contest and Show. Edith Crumb described these things in her quilt columns and over the coming years offered continuous and regular acknowledgment and support. Mary responded by making quilts, prize-winning quality quilts, at a very fast rate (usually 4 a year, but there is at least one year where she completed 6). Edith Crumb was interested in expanding the scope of the Detroit quilt shows, turning them into national events attracting 50,000 visitors (each) and displaying over a thousand quilts (each). The show in 1940, which turned out to be the last show, attracted 2000 entries. Mary was an enthusiastic (and popular) contributor. Detroit was her main motivation for improving her quiltmaking skills from 1935 through 1940 (and perhaps somewhat beyond, since what were called "annual" quilt shows sometimes occurred a year and a half apart). Mary undoubtedly hoped that these shows (and her popularity at these shows) would resume after the war. They did not.
This quilt is a design Mary Gasperik created specifically for the Detroit News Quilt Show. It may be the quilt which Mary Gasperik herself regarded as her 'best', because it is the one she wished to donate to The Art Institute of Chicago. The two applique motifs of quilters seated in the tall ladder-backed chairs, some with raised sewing baskets by their sides, and some with slanted hats, are taken from Detroit News Quilt Club Corner registration forms and Detroit News Quilt Exhibit announcements [see images of these tickets reproduced in Marsha MacDowell, "Quilting with The Detroit News" , Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, April 2002, p. 54; and also Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, ed. Marsha MacDowell and Ruth D. Fitzgerald, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, 1987, p. 9].
The silhouetted quilter seated (in a 4-rung ladderback chair) beside her table-height sewing basket was the motif used by Detroit News quilt column writer Edith B. Crumb to signify that her Beauty in the Home column was about the Detroit News quilt show [“Every time you see this little patchwork-quilt lady in the Beauty in the Home column just say to yourself ‘Oh, there’s some more news about the Quilt Contest’ “. Detroit News, October 16, 1933, page 19; the first Detroit News Quilt Show was held November 17, 18 and 19 of that year.] This same motif was offered, by The Detroit News, as pattern 115-12-14-28, one of a series of 3 paper-silhouette patterns.
A photograph of an appliqué quilt made by Mrs. Arthur Miller of Detroit, featured by Edith B. Crumb in her January 16, 1936 quilt column of The Detroit News, shows a quilt which is remarkably similar to Mary’s quilt. In her column Edith notes that this quilt appeared in the recent quilt show (which would have been the second Detroit News quilt show, held October 18, 19 and 20 of 1935), where it was very popular (“Mrs. Miller has received almost 150 letters since the last quilt show asking her about this quilt and it has been a great source of enjoyment to her to know that so many found her work so interesting.”). Mary would have seen Mrs. Miller’s quilt when she went to the 3rd Detroit News Quilt Show in October, 1935. It is quite possible (even likely) that Mary asked Mrs. Miller to share her patterns. According to Edith B. Crumb’s column of Saturday November 7, 1936, p12, which described events at the previous day’s weekly Friday afternoon meeting of The Quilt Club Corner, “Mrs. Arthur Miller had a letter from Mrs. Mary Gasperick [sic], one of our Chicago members, and Mrs. Gasperick [sic] is planning on sending four quilts to the next show. When she finds that it won’t be held until; April, perhaps she will be able to send six or seven. We hope so, don’t we?” Quilts featuring the seated quilter ‘logo’ of the Detroit News quilt contests and Quilt Club Corner were apparently very popular. A letter writer to the Quilt Club Corner (The Detroit News November 7, 1936, p34) praises the success of the October quilt contest, specifically recalling “two beautiful quilts made with our little Corner ladies on them”. Four days later Edith’s column presented one of those quilts, the quilt made by Mrs. Arthur Miller, accompanied by a photograph of the quilt. Edith writes: “There are three different designs, one being the dainty little maiden who advertised the 1933 quilt show, another one is the silhouet which this department has for distribution and the third is one (front view) which she found elsewhere.”
The Detroit News offered “Lady Making Patch Quilt Silhouette” as pattern #15-12-14-28 (possibly indicating that the original pattern appeared in the December 14, 1928 newspaper). Immediately following the 1935 quilt contest, and evidently reflecting the popularity of the quilt of quilters design, the News quilt column of November 16, 1935 (p 13) re-offered this pattern (or at least offered a pattern with exactly the same name, the November 16 column does not present a picture of the pattern) under a new number, ID16. Pattern #15-12-14-28/ID16 is the pattern showing a sewing basket table right next to the seated quilter.
The Gasperik quilt appears to use Mrs. Miller’s patterns, but Mary made significant changes/elaborations to the Miller design. For example, she added a broad scalloped border; she reversed the orientations of four of the seated quilters; she substituted an elaborate star pattern quilt for the miniature crazy quilt in the center of the Miller quilt; she placed a different cap on the some of the quilters – a colonial-style cap, and, most noteworthy, Mary has the two forward-facing quilters sewing not quilts but national flags. For all this, the Gasperik quilt very closely resembles the Miller quilt. Just as Mrs. Miller’s quilt is a salute to The Detroit News Quilt Club Corner from an active local member, the Gasperik quilt is a salute to the club, from afar, from an equally devoted member. The Miller quilt shown in 1935, where Mary Gasperik saw it at the first Detroit News quilt contest she attended, made a reappearance in the May 1940 (and what turned out to be final) Detroit News quilt contest. This time it was awarded a prize, a third prize in appliqué. Mary Gasperik won the second prize in appliqué at the 1940 show. I believe this went to her quilt called “Hungarian Harvest Festival”. A sliver of the Miller quilt can be seen hanging next to the grand-prize winning Tree of Life quilt made by Mrs. Charles Voelker [Detroit News page of photographs published May 25, 1940; clipping in Gasperik family archive].
The patchwork-quilt lady, also known as “our little Corner ladies”, was, apparently, a very popular and distinctive icon of the Detroit shows and the Detroit News Quilt Club created and run by Edith B. Crumb. It is no surprise that Mary returned to Chicago from this show inspired by Mrs. Miller’s quilt, and determined to make her own quilt of quilters. It is not surprising that she used motifs from the Detroit News to make it. It is not surprising that she wrote to Ms. Arthur Miller and (probably) asked if Mrs. Miller would share her patterns, especially the patterns for the front-seated quilters and the adaptation of the modern looking quilter featured on the announcement of the first quilt show. This latter design was first presented, I believe, as a nearly full-page drawing accompanying the article written by Florence Davies (Women’s editor at The Detroit News) for the Sunday Magazine Section of the newspaper published November 5, 1933. The detail and scale of that magazine section illustration would have been a very inviting starting point from which readers/quilters could make (and then share) their own patterns. From the moment she discovered Edith Crumb and the Detroit Quilt Club Corner and quilt contests, in the fall of 1935, Mary participated in every Detroit News quilt contest. In 1938 she won her highest Detroit prize (a first prize for appliqué using a News pattern). In 1940 she had to be satisfied with a second prize. I suspect her goal for Colonial Quilting Bee was to recapture a first prize, or even hope for a grand-prize. Selecting (and elaborating) the images of the quilters which were (deliberately created) icons of The Detroit News Quilt Club Corner and its annual contests, and adding patriotic emblems of the national flags, were very shrewd choices to make in 1940.
Eleven of Mary's seated quilters wear the forward-slanted, modern hat which can be seen on the Detroit News Quilt Show ‘Announcement’ reproduced in the lower left-hand corner of page 54 of the above-mentioned Quilter's Newsletter Magazine article. All 22 of Mary's quilters are seated in chairs whose high backs are like the chair-back printed on the (1933) Detroit News quilt show ‘Announcement’. Four of Mary's 22 quilters are seated next to tall-legged sewing baskets exactly like the quilters represented on the quilt show ‘entry form’ reproduced just above the 'Announcement’ (and resembling the silhouet pattern 115-12-14-28/ID16). Four of Mary's seated quilters are wearing colonial-style bonnets. The remaining seven quilters have be-ribboned colonial hairstyles. These are very elaborate, and very specific, designs. This patriotic quilt salutes Mary Gasperik's two countries: Hungary and the United States. Betsy Ross, centered above the medallion miniature quilt and quilters, is sewing the original American flag. A Hungarian girl, centered below the medallion, is sewing a traditional Hungarian flag. Mary may have seen a representation of Betsy Ross with her American flag in the Betsy Ross House in the Colonial Village at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago [a postcard featuring “Birth of Our Nation’s Flag” by Charles H. Weisgerber, shows General Washington, the Hon. George Ross Robert Morris to the left and Betsy Ross with her flag to the right, is titled “Betsy Ross House – Colonial Village – A Century of Progress Chicago 1934”; collection of Susan Salser]. The photograph of the Miller quilt which appears in the January 16, 1936 Detroit News does not show enough detail to determine the extent to which Mary Gasperik changed and elaborated on Marjorie Miller’s appliquéd quilters.
The miniature star quilt which forms the center medallion of Colonial Quilting Bee is a tiny elaboration of the star in Margaret Caden's ‘Star of Kentucky’ quilt which won the Sears Contest of 1933 and was displayed that year at the ‘Century of Progress’ Chicago World's Fair. Whereas Margaret's star goes from 8 points, to 16 points and then back down to 8 points, the Gasperik star goes from 8-points (green print) to 16 points (red print), to 24 points! ( pale blue print), then back down to 16 points (solid gold), dancing around the center-of-the-center 8-point star (red on white print). What a competitive tour de force this is! I would note that Mary used the same red print fabric in the array of 16 points in this quilt to make the maples leaves swirling in the lower left-hand area of her (1939) quilt called ‘Road to Recovery’ (#066). It’s owner, my sister Karen, has a piece of this fabric (which even has the maple leaf cut out of it).
Miniature orange and gold comets are appliqued or pieced into two corners of the centerpiece miniature quilt and into the corner of the quilt being stitched by the third quilter down from the right side. Here, Mary is referencing both the Star Arcturus symbol of the 1933 Chicago Fair and the ‘Star Arcturus’ quilt (#048) she made in 1934 honoring that Fair. Colonial Quilting Bee demonstrates an amazing attention to very specific detail which very few viewers would be able to appreciate.
The design quilted into the four corners of the white ground of this quilt can be identified as pattern #Q517B presented in Aunt Mary Jacobs’ Album of Favorite Quilting Designs (Art Department R.N.A. Rock Island, Illinois), once again making Hubert Ver Mehren and his Home Art Studios, of Des Moines, Iowa, Mary Gasperik’s quilting design source; although I should note that this pattern was also offered as “No. 88 9-inch corner end” and No. 93 9-inch border” by Needleart Guild’s Original Master Quilting Patterns, [Needleart Guild, 826 Fulton St., Grand Rapids, Michigan, undated, page 11]. Quilted as the border of the miniature quilt in the frame are adaptations of pattern #71 from page 5 and #33 from page 8 of Original Master Quilting Patterns (Needleart Guild, undated). The cluster of grapes quilted twice (centered in the top and in the bottom of the white ground) are an adaptation Mary made of a quilting pattern presented by Rose G. Kretsinger in Part III “Quilting and Quilting Designs” of Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America. The design is presented as Plate V on page 276 of the Bonanza Books, New York, 1935 edition of this book. Mary eliminated the upward stalk of leaves, but otherwise her quilting design bears a remarkable resemblance to the Kretsinger illustration. Mary quilted this same grape cluster into all four of her ‘Indiana Wreath’ quilts. When she made (or adapted) her own pattern, she tended to re-use it, not surprisingly.
That Mary wished, towards the end of her life, to donate this quilt to the Chicago Art Institute is suggested by a January 1959 letter to Mary Gasperik signed "Steve and Elsie Pecsenge, 1045 W 123rd St. Cgo 43". Part of the letter reads: "If I am not mistaken, you promised me the patterns for a quilting background. The ones I would really like to have are the harp and the heart. I think they are on the quilt you had intended to donate to the museum. I'd be tickled pink if you would send me a sketch of the harp and heart pattern... I believe it was your daughter-in-law, or daughter, who said you had a beautiful quilt, a falling petals design of daisies. She said it was her favorite and its always stuck in my mind. I didn't get to see that one yet. I hope that when we visit you again you might show that one to us too." Colonial Quilting Bee is the only Mary Gasperik quilt with quilted harps.
My mother told me (confirmed by my sisters) that she DID approach The Chicago Art Institute about donating Mary Gasperik quilts, but was turned down, to her great disappointment. I have a pamphlet The Art Institute of Chicago American Quilts, given to me by my mother. The title page reads "Mildred Davison/American Quilts from The Art Institute of Chicago/1966" , copyright 1966 by The Art Institute of Chicago. The first page is signed "Elsie C. Krueger 1973". I do not know if Mary Gasperik, who died in 1969, knew that the Art Institute had turned down the quilt she wished to donate. Nor do I know exactly what my mother asked of them. The Art Institute was not eager to accept 20th century quilts. A better known quilter, named Dr. Jeanette Throckmorton, approached the Art Institute in July of 1958 about donating her quilts. In November of 1963 they sent Dr. Throckmorton a letter accepting her quilts, but she never knew that. She died in July 1963 [Maxine Teele’s "Dr. Janette A Fine Needlewoman” (Nimble Needle Treasures, Vol. 7, 1975, pp .7-8].
A quilt with a similar theme, called ‘Quilt Show’, was made by the famous Chicago quilter, Bertha Stenge (probably in 1943). In a letter dated December 15, 1991, Barbara Brackman wrote to me as follows: "I also enclosed a copy of Bertha Stenge's The Quilt Show, which is derived from the Nancy Page drawings of a woman holding up a quilt. Hers and your grandmother's Betsy Ross are the only two I've seen with figures quilting in them. I imagine Mary made hers before Bertha; I wonder if they knew each other. I have seen some graphics from 1930s magazines with the profile of a colonial woman in a high back chair quilting and I would imagine these were Mary's point of departure on this design."
Bertha Stenge's Quilt Show quilt is pictured in Joyce R. Gross’s article "Four Twentieth-Century Quiltmakers"(pp 164-175 of Quiltmaking in America - Beyond The Myths, edited by Laurel Horton, Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1994). The picture on page 172 carries the caption " "Quilting Show of pieced and applique print and solid-color cottons, 93" x 78", made by Bertha Stenge, 1943. Collection of Frances Stenge Traynor. Courtesy of Merikay Waldvogel." Mary Gasperik made her Colonial Quilting Bee several years before the 1943 Stenge quilt.
Barbara Brackman was absolutely right on both points in her 1991 letter quoted above. Mary Gasperik and Bertha Stenge DID know each other. Bertha's name and address appear on a list of invitees Mary prepared for her 50th wedding anniversary celebration, which occurred in November of 1956. And Mary Gasperik's name and address appear on a list of persons (assembled from Bertha's address book) whom Bertha's daughters contacted after she died in June of 1957. The high-back chair quilters, mentioned by Barbara in her letter, were a popular motif used, for example, by the Detroit quilt shows and by quilt publications from Ruby Short McKim.
Quilt Show was included among the Stenge quilts exhibited in a special show at The Art Institute of Chicago in the summer of 1943. I do not know when and where Mary Gasperik first exhibited her ‘Colonial Quilting Bee’ quilt, but believe she had it ready to compete in the never-to-be-held 7th Detroit News quilt contest following the May 1940 contest. Family records indicate that another Gasperik quilt, Calico Rose, won second prize at a quilt contest sponsored by the Chicago department store, Marshall Fields, in 1942. Mary may well have contributed Colonial Quilting Bee to that same contest, where Bertha might have seen it.
In October 1993 this quilt was exhibited at Cornucopia of Quilts: A Juried/Judged Quilt Exhibition and Month-Long Series of Lectures & Workshops in University City, Missouri. As quilt #30 it was awarded a first prize in the “Antique” category.
In 2005, Mary Gasperik's Colonial Quilting Bee quilt was put on display at the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., in their American Quilt Legacy showcase. In August of that year, six of Mary Gasperik’s seven granddaughters traveled to Washington to see this exhibit.
The American Quilt Legacy showcase placard reads as follows: "Colonial Quilting Bee Chicago, Illinois Mary Gasperik made this quilt, one of her favorites, in the 1930s, At the center is a quilting frame holding a star-patterned quilt that included the Star Arcturus. Arcturus figured prominently in the opening ceremonies of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. Its light began traveling to earth at the time of the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. As the light reached Chicago 37 years later, its energy was used to turn on the lights at the opening ceremonies of the later fair. That fair included the Sears quilt contest that inspired Mary to become a quilt-maker. Four quilters in colonial dress are seated around the frame. Surrounding them are twenty colonial ladies seated on chairs. Eighteen are working on quilts of various patterns and fabics. One woman is making an American flag, and another, below, wearing a Hungarian festival costume, is making a Hungarian flag. Mary based her colonial ladies on a Detroit News illustration advertising a 1930s quilt contest. Cotton, applique, pieced work and embroidery, 92" long and 79" wide. Lent by Linda MacLachlan, granddaughter of Mrs. Gasperik."
Note on the placard text: the “American flag” being made is the one celebrating the independence of the original thirteen colonies, the so-called Betsy Ross flag. This is why, as children, my sisters and I called this quilt "the Betsy Ross quilt". The appliqué flag being stitched together by the Hungarian girl is similarly historic. It bears the traditional coat of arms of an independent Hungary, and has no reference to the flag of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
This quilt was exhibited at Ravenswood in 1992. The catalog description reads as follows: "16. Colonial Quilting Bee or Betsy Ross, 1930s, 79 x 92 inches. Owner: Linda Krueger MacLachlan. The center of this quilt is comprised of a pieced, miniature example of the Century of Progress "Unknown Star" with appliqued "Lemon" or "Le Moyne" stars in two corners and "Star Arcturus" in the other two, being quilted by four colonial ladies. Twenty additional ladies "sit" about the rest of the quilt, each with different hair styles, ornaments, appliqued dresses, and each working on a different quilt. Faces, hands, shoes, hair, sleeve and petticoat ruffles and chair backs are all appliqued. Centered above the framed quilt, Betsy Ross sits face-on, sewing the original Stars and Stripes. Centered below the framed quilt is a Hungarian girl sewing the Hungarian flag (with the old Austro-Hungarian Imperial coat-of-arms rather than the recent red star). Her outfit and decorative embroidery are similar to that on the Hungarian Girls Harvest Fesitval Quilt (No. 1). This quilt, with its clever quilt within a quilt, was Mary's pride and joy, and one she showed at every opportunity. It depicts what she loved best: quilting, America and Hungary - the land of her birth."
As stated above, the Hungarian flag depicted is the traditional Hungarian flag - not the flag of the Austro-Hungarian empire. There are 22 quilters depicted on this quilt plus the 2 flag-makers. And I don't know why the Ravenswood catalog refers to "20 additional quilters" instead of 18.
Although Mary was very proud of this quilt, it is very sad to me that there is no indication that it was exhibited in any major quilt show or contest during her lifetime. Mary Gasperik clearly designed her Colonial Quilting Bee quilt FOR the Detroit quilt show. Yet there is no indication it was seen in Detroit, probably because by the time the quilt was finished, the Detroit News Quilt Contests were also finished. Mrs. Pecsenge's 1959 letter indicates she saw the quilt at Mary's house, not at an Illinois State Fair.
I recently learned of a tiny envelope of black and white film negatives (1 and 1/4 inch by 1 and 3/4 inch in size) which belonged to Elmer and Doris Gasperik. On the outside of the envelope is written ‘1939’. The inside of the envelope contains negatives of ten Mary Gasperik quilts, which appear to be hanging not in a home, but hung from sheets like drapes in a 3-to-the-box formation, an arrangement which Karen remembers as the way Tuley Park Shows hung their quilts. Detroit quilts shows did NOT display the quilts in this manner, but Illinois State Fairs might have. The ten negatives in this envelope labeled ‘1939’ are of the following Gasperik quilts: 1-3) Linda's Tree of Life [a quilt dated 1938], 4-6) Colonial Quilting Bee [an undated quilt], 7) Star Arcturus [a quilt dated 1934], 8) Road to Recovery [a quilt dated 1939], 9) Forget Me Not Rose Wreath [ a quilt dated 1938] and 10) an (apricot) Morning Glory [neither of the two Mary Gasperik apricot Morning Glory quilts is dated. Although the 1939 notation on the envelope suggests that Mary Gasperik made her Colonial Quilting Bee (an undated quilt) before 1940, I believe that envelope is simply mis-labelled and that mary in fact completed Colonial Quilting Bee after she returned from the May 1940 Detroit News quilt show.
The following section is a summary of what I currently know about Mary Gasperik's participation in Detroit News Quilt Shows and Contests.
They held their first show and contest November 17, 18, and 19, 1933. It’s success was well-paved by Edith B. Crumb’s creation of The Quilt Club Corner (a venue for quilters to correspond and share patterns and enthusiasms) in the fall of 1932. A second contest was held October 12, 13 and 14, 1934. These occurred before Mary Gasperik discovered the existence of Edith Crumb's Quilt Club Corner in the newspaper she picked up at the Detroit Tigers/Chicago Cubs World Series baseball game in Chicago on Friday October 4th, 1935. A February 11, 1936 quilt column by Edith Crumb published in The Detroit News relates this story and adds that Mary Gasperik began corresponding with Edith Crumb almost immediately. She joined the Detroit Club and attended the Detroit quilt show held just weeks later, October 18-20, 1935. Mary apparently sent some quilts to Detroit (she had begun to make cotton quilts in 1933-34), at least one of which arrived too late to compete - the Mary Gasperik Double Feather Star quilt which is the subject of Edith Crumb's column. Mary was, evidently, very eager to broaden her quilting horizons, eager to exhibit her quilts, eager to compete. Edith Crumb and The Detroit News, in turn, (in addition to appreciating quality quilt entries) loved the story of Mary Gasperik and the World Series baseball game. It first appeared in the October 22, 1935 (p23) quilt column where Edith first mentions Mary Gasperik by name (misspelled in the text) and includes Mary Gasperik (name and address correct this time) in the accompanying list of new Quilt Club members. When Mary won her biggest Detroit prize (a first prize for appliqué), at the 1938 Detroit News Quilt Contest, the baseball story was repeated in print yet again, by Garnet Warfel on page 9 of the October 9, 1938 Detroit News in the three paragraphs she devoted to describing Mary Gasperik’s triumph at this show. As discussed above, it is at the 1935 Detroit Quilt show where Mary probably saw, for the first time, Mrs. Arthur Miller’s Colonial Sewing Bee quilt featuring the patchwork ladies/ Corner ladies.
I do not know exactly which quilts Mary entered in the 1935 show (her first appearance there, although it was the 3rd Detroit quilt show) but one of the submitted quilts must have been the Gasperik Star Arcturus quilt (dated 1934), and there was clearly a black and white Double Feather Star top (or quilt - I can’t tell by the newspaper photograph) which arrived too late to compete in the show, but which Edith Crumb featured in her February 11, 1936 Detroit News quilt column.
No Detroit quilt show was held in 1936. In Chicago, the Tuley Park Quilt Club held a quilt show at the end of October 1936, a quilt show in which at least four Gasperik quilts were displayed in the Park Fieldhouse. Tuley Park did not award prizes and ribbons at its shows, although it displayed ribbons won elsewhere.
The fourth Detroit News quilt show was held April 16, 17 and 18, 1937, and Mary competed. An article from the 1938 (5th and next) Detroit News quilt contest mentions that Mary Gasperik entered four quilts into the previous (1937) contest and was awarded 4 Honorable mention (green) ribbons. One Honorable Mention ribbon from that show survives. 3 (surviving) typewritten exhibit tags accompanied Mary Gasperik’s entries: two of these are for Mary’s second and third Double Feather Star quilts (made in red and white, not black and white), and the third one is for Four Little Pigs, Mary’s first child’s quilt. We have a black and white photograph of the Mary Gasperik Laurel Wreath quilt (which is dated 1935) showing two ribbons pinned to it. One of those ribbons looks very much like the surviving 1937 Honorable mention ribbon, though the image is very blurred. That 1937 ribbon is the only surviving Detroit ribbon we have, although we know from newspaper clippings that she won many more, 4 in 1937 alone.
An envelope containing tissue paper drawings of quilts block patterns like the ones Mary Gasperik used to make her Double Feather Star quilts found among the quilt papers of Frances Purcell (private collection, Merikay Waldvogel) indicates that Mary Gasperik exhibited one of her red and white Double Feather Star quilts at the 1937 Detroit News Quilt Show. The writing on the envelope reads: “Feathered Star Applique on a 16” block Original made in 1835 by a Mr. Hamill for his sweetheart Mary Haywood. Made in dark blue print & white. At 1937 Detroit News Show in red & white Made by Mary Gasperick [sic], Chicago”. This suggests that the second of the four 1937 Honorable Mention ribbons was attached to the red and white Double Feather Star quilt Frances Purcell saw and recorded. The second red and white Double Feather Star quilt (a quilt which is dated 1935) probably received the third Honorable Mention ribbon. I would hazard a guess that Four Little Pigs was the recipient of the fourth Honorable Mention ribbon Mary took home with her on the bus from Detroit to Chicago in April 1937.
The 5th 1938 Detroit News show, held October 7-9th, was a very large quilt show. The Detroit News claimed that "Some 2000 quilts and spreads, hung in five rows of racks throughout the length of the hall's center unit, made what experts in the field declare to be the largest collection of quilts ever shown under one roof." Crowds waited, sometime three hours, to get in. An October 7, 1938 Detroit News article describes this particular show as the "fifth annual Detroit show" (which is why I believe there was no Detroit News quilt show held in 1936; if there had been a 1936 show, then the 1938 show would have been the sixth, not the fifth, such event).
Mary Gasperik, in 1938, won a "second highest award of $25 for a finished quilt ", according to the October 7, 1938 Detroit News. That show was held October 7, 8 and 9, 1938. An (undated) Chicago paper reported: "The first prize of $25.00 in the Detroit News Quilt Show contest was awarded to Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue, last week. A grand prize of $25.00 was also given to Mrs. Gasperik, who is a member of the Tuley Park "Quilt Club" for a finished appliqued quilt. The national recognition is indeed a wonderful tribute to this zealous individual...". My sister Karen remembers that when her mother brought her the Mary Gasperik Laurel Wreath quilt, she explained that it was a prize-winner in the 1938 Detroit Quilt Show. As I explain above (and below, under quilt No. 67), I think it is more likely that ‘Laurel Wreath’ won in Detroit in 1937.]
I have found no evidence that a show was held in 1939. The 5th show, as mentioned, was held in October of 1938. May 25, 1940 Detroit News article by Garnet Warfel, describing the May 24-26 (1940 and 6th) show which was held at Detroit's Naval Armory, mentions that Mary Gasperik "was a prize winner last year". I believe Warfel is referring to the October 1938 show, and that the 5th (1938) and 6th (1940) shows were held not one year apart but one-and-one-half years apart (similar to the situation between the 1935/3rd and 1937/4th “annual” Detroit quilt contests).
The sixth (and apparently the last) Detroit News quilt show was held May 24, 25 and 26, 1940. In this show Mary won second prize (to an elaborate and original nursery rhymes quilt made by Mrs. Charles Goodson). Grand prize winner was Mrs. Charles Voelker's Tree of Life quilt. A family archive newspaper clipping (undated – but I believe it refers to the 1940 Detroit show), says Mary Gasperik won five ribbons with six entries. Except for Hungarian Girls (which probably took Mary’s highest prize of that show, a second prize for appliqué). A May 3, 1940 letter to Mary from Edith Crumb says that Edith was looking forward to seeing Mary's ‘Hungarian Girls’ quilt. A May 24, 1940 Detroit News article reads: “Another quilt comes from a Hungarian woman living in Chicago, Mrs. Mary Gasparik [sic]. It depicts her own life in this country from the time of her arrival here in 1927. Mrs. Gasparik will be among a bus load of women coming to the show from Chicago.” It is interesting that the ‘Hungarian Girls’ quilt is NOT one of the negatives in that 1939 envelope. I do not know which were the other 5 quilts Mary sent to the 1940 Detroit quilt show. With 6 entries and 5 prizes, 1940 must have been Mary's biggest year competing in Detroit News quilt shows.
No shows were held in Detroit after that May 1940 contest. She lost her most national venue. Detroit, and Edith B. Crumb in particular, had brought her recognition and honor as a quilter, repeatedly and in print. Mary, of course, continued to make quilts. Her most frequent venue after 1940 was the Illinois State Fair, held in Springfield. But, due to the need to use the Fairgrounds for war-related things, no Illinois State Fairs were held between 1942 and 1946. This must have severely limited Mary Gasperik’s ability to show her quilts and compete with America’s best quilters. Tuley Park and its Fieldhouse seem to have been her reliable standby from the time she began making quilts (in 1933) until she moved from Cottage Grove to East Hazelcrest Illinois in late 1948. Perhaps this vacuum, which occurred at the very time when she had a substantial collection of suberb quilts to show, explains why she is not the nationally recognized quilter she might otherwise have become.
We have five letters sent by Edith B. Crumb to Mary Gasperik. They are dated December 23,1937 (a holiday greetings letter), November 16, 1938 (about the recent Detroit quilt show), December 26, 1939 (another holiday greetings letter), May 3, 1940 (about Mary's intention to attend the upcoming Detroit show and mentioning the Gasperik Hungarian Girls quilt) and May 31, 1940 (sending a winnings check).
After that last quilt show, the Detroit News transferred the major impetus behind those quilt shows (and its quilt column), Edith B. Crumb, to a different department. An obituary dated January 9, 1970 describes her as "former Detroit News home furnishing editor and nationally known authority on interior decoration". A January 8, 1970 obituary says "She planned The News' books of model home design, and a number of her original plans are still used in the current issue , "92 Home Designs"." All of this suggests that America's quilt fascination launched by the 1933 Chicago Fair ended with the advent of World War II.
Where are the records for this quilt housed?
Mary Gasperik Legacy Project
Who documented this quilt?
Mary Gasperik Private Collection
CONTRIBUTING INSTITUTIONAL INVENTORY CONTROL NUMBERS: Enter the main control number for this item you are entering. For a museum, this will probably be your acquisition number. It may be the number given to the quilt by the state or county project.
TYPE OF QUILT OBJECT: Choose the best description for the quilt being documented.
QUILT'S TITLE, IF IT HAS ONE: Enter the name given to the quilt by the maker. Many quilts have no title, but contemporary quilters often give a name to their quilts. If the quilt has no title, leave this field blank.
Colonial Quilting Bee
OWNER'S NAME FOR QUILT'S PATTERN: Enter the name given to the quilt by the owner. This can be the name the family used to refer to the quilt as it passed through different generations, e.g. "Aunt Susie's quilt" or a pattern name that the owner used.
Colonial Quilting Bee, The Betsy Ross Quilt
OVERALL WIDTH: Enter how wide the quilt is. Specify units of measure (mm or in or inches)
OVERALL LENGTH: Enter how long the quilt is. Specify unit of measure (mm or in or inches).
SHAPE OF EDGE: Choose the best description for the edges of the quilt.
SHAPE OF CORNERS: Choose the best description for the corners of the quilt.
OTHER SHAPE OF CORNERS: If you chose Other, please describe the corner treatment.
PREDOMINANT COLOR(S): CHECK ALL THAT APPLY: Enter all colors that are found in the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
OVERALL COLOR SCHEME: Choose the best color scheme description for the quilt being documented.
Light or pastel colors
OVERALL CONDITION: Choose the best description for the quilt being documented.
TIME PERIOD: Choose the time frame that best describes when the quilt was made. The date does not have to appear on the quilt to enter it in this field. This can be your best guess based on family stories or your own knowledge of quilts.
DATE BEGUN: Enter the date the quilt was started (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965). Leave blank if you don't know.
Not known; pattern possibly collected as early as 1936.
DATE FINISHED: Enter the date the quilt was finished (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965). Leave blank if you don't know.
FAMILY/OWNER'S DATE FOR QUILT: If there are family stories that indicate a date when the quilt was made, enter that date (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).
1936-1940; possibly finished for a post-1940 7th Detroit News show never held.
OTHER DATE ESTIMATION BY WHOM: Enter the name and/or title of the person who estimated the quilt's date for field 23d.
FURTHER INFORMATION CONCERNING DATE(S): If you know anything else about the date the quilt was made, please tell the story.
Salser believes the quilt was made for the 7th Detroit News Quilt Show, a show which was never held.
LAYOUT FORMAT: Choose the best description for the layout (or set) of the quilt.
SUBJECT OF QUILT, IF IT HAS ONE: Some quilts are made with a specific intent (e.g. Commemoration of September 11, the 100th anniversary of a town, or an AIDS panel). Enter the subject of the quilt. If there is no subject, leave the field blank.
BORDER DESCRIPTION: Describe the style of the borders (i.e. pieced, appliqued, stenciled) and the width of each border, from the inside to the outside.
One wide yellow-gold outer border. Just inside this, an inner solid white quilted border border frames the central field.
FABRIC FIBER TYPES USED IN QUILT TOP: Choose all the types of fiber that are used to make the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN QUILT TOP: EMBELLISHMENT TECHNIQUES: Choose the embellishment technique used to make the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. If your answer in Field 38f was no, skip this question.
CONTAINS PAPER REMAINS: This field is for quilts that have been either string pieced on a paper foundation or English template pieced. Choose yes if you can feel or see paper on the quilt that was used as a construction aid.
UNIQUE EMBELLISHMENTS: Enter any embellishment materials that don't appear in a previous field.
Hungarian girl sewing traditonal Hungarian flag; miniature Star Arcturus motif.
FABRIC FIBER TYPES USED IN QUILT BACK: Choose the fiber type used to make the quilt back. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
DESCRIPTION OF BACK: Choose the best description for the back of the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
MATERIALS USED IN QUILT BINDING: Choose the fiber type used to make the quilt binding. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
FABRIC STRUCTURE USED IN BINDING: Choose the fabric structure used to make the quilt binding. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN BINDING: Choose the construction technique used to make the quilt binding. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
WIDTH OF QUILT BINDING: Choose the width (in inches) of the binding of the quilt. Measure from the front side only.
less than a half inch
MATERIAL USED FOR QUILT BATTING OR FILLING: Choose the fiber content that best describes the material used to fill the quilt.
QUILTING TECHNIQUES USED: Choose the technique that best describes the way the quilt layers are held together. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
THREAD TYPE: Describe the fiber content or type of quilting thread used on the quilt.
THREAD COLOR: Enter the color(s) of thread used to hold the quilt layers together.
QUILTING DESIGNS USED: DECORATIVE PATTERNS: Choose the decorative quilt design found on the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if none of the designs appear on the quilt.
QUILTING DESIGNS USED: BACKGROUND FILL PATTERNS: Choose the background quilt design found on the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if none of the designs appear on the quilt.
Grid/crosshatch; Parallel lines; Other
QUILT TOP MADE BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who made the quilt top. Names must be listed last name first, followed by first name and middle name or initials; last name should be followed by a comma and space.
QUILTED BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who quilted the top. Names must be listed last name first, followed by first name and middle name or initials; last name should be followed by a comma and space.
CITY: Enter the name of the city where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.
COUNTY: Enter the name of the county where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.
STATE: Enter the name of the state where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.
COUNTRY: Enter the name of the country where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.
HOW WAS QUILT ACQUIRED BY OWNER: Choose the best description for how the owner acquired the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if you don't know how the owner acquired the quilt.
OCCASION, DATE, PERSON INHERITED FROM, ETC: If the quilt was inherited, enter any information you know about the inheritance. Skip the question if the quilt was not passed on through a family.
Selected by daughter Elsie during a division of quilts after Gasperik died. When Elsie Krueger died in 1988 and her three daughters divided their mother's share of Gasperik quilts, Linda had first pick. This was her choice.
QUILTMAKER'S REASONS FOR MAKING THE QUILT: If the quilt was made for a specific purpose, choose the reason from the list. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
QUILT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED TO BE USED AS: Not all quilts were made for beds. Choose how the quilt was originally used. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
QUILT IS PRESENTLY USED AS: Choose how the quilt is being used by the present owner. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
Artwork/wall hanging; Exhibit; Keepsake/memento
OTHER PRESENT USE(S) OF QUILT: If you chose Other, please explain the quilt's present use.
Mary's grandchildren regard her quilts as a unique collection to be preserved and appreciated.
SOURCE OF QUILT'S MATERIALS: Choose how the quilt maker acquired the fabric for this quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
QUILT TOP PATTERN SOURCE: Choose where the quilt maker found the pattern for this quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
OTHER TOP PATTERN SOURCE(S): If you chose Other, please explain where the pattern was found.
Quilters viewed from side are patterns copied from Detroit News quilt show club ticket. Miniature star in miniature quilt is traditional pattern 'Harvest Sun' executed in the traditional colors.
COMMERCIAL SOURCE NAME(S): If you know the commercial name of the pattern used for this quilt, please enter it. This may include books, magazines, newsletters, pattern companies, computer software programs, and kits.
Quilter with slanted feather-pointed hat is "The Detroit News "Lady Making Patch Quilt Silhouette" 115-12-14-28.
QUILTING DESIGN PATTERN SOURCE: Choose where the quilt maker found the pattern for the quilting design used in this quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
OTHER QUILTING DESIGN PATTERN SOURCE: If you chose Other, please explain the where the quilting design pattern was found.
H. Ver Mehren, Needleart Guild, Rose Kretsinger
COMMERCIAL QUILTING DESIGN SOURCE NAME: If you know the commercial name of the quilting design used for this quilt, please enter it. This may include books, magazines, newsletters, pattern companies, etc.
Ver Mehren Q517B/Needleart Guild #88 & #93; quilted grape clusters are taken from Plate V, p 276 Hall/Kretsinger The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America (Quilting Designs from Rose Kretsinger)
ANY ADDITIONAL NOTES OR STORIES ABOUT THE QUILT'S DESIGN OR MATERIALS SOURCE: Describe anything about the design of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.
An unusually large array of different print fabrics are found on this quilt, making it an ideal choice to compare with fabrics found in other Gasperik quilts, particularly the Tree of Life quilts (#031, #044 and #065) and Hungarian Girls (#014).
EXHIBITIONS (LIST ALL): List all known exhibits where this quilt has been displayed including: Title, Location, Dates, Venue of Exhibit and Catalog Title or publications, if applicable. Use this field for all information.
The Quilts of Mary Gasperik"," Ann Anastasio, Curator, Ravenswood Historic Site /Livermore (CA) Area Recreation & Park District, March 14-15, 1992.
"Cornucopia of Quilts: A Juried/ Judged Quilt Exhibition and Month-Long Series of Lectures & Workshops", University City, Missouri, October 1993.
Exhibited in the American Quilt Legacy Case in the Textiles Hall of The American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. May 19, 2005-September 4, 2006.
CONTESTS ENTERED (LIST ALL): List contest entered including: Contest Name, Location, Dates, Awards or Prizes, and Contest Catalog or Publications, if applicable. Use this field for all contests.
Surprisingly, there is no evidence this quilt was entered in either the Detroit News Quilt Shows or the Illinois State Fair.
In October 1993, it won first prize in the "Antique" category in "Cornucopia of Quilts" in University City, MO.
Salser believes Mary Gasperik included this quilt with quilts she submitted to contests sponsored by downtown Chicago department stores (Marshall Fields in 1942 and Mandel Brothers in 1956).
OTHER RELATED ITEMS SUCH AS IMAGE, ORAL HISTORY, OR EPHEMERA: Use this box to list other materials that exist about this quilt. This may include oral history, articles, additional photos or publications, etc.
Detroit News Quilt Club logos - Silhouettes of sideviews of young woman quilting.
Detroit News, January 16, 1936 features story and photos of Mrs. Miller and her quilt, on which Gasperik based hers.
Five letters sent by Edith B. Crumb to Mary Gasperik:
1) December 23,1937 (a holiday greetings letter)
2) November 16, 1938 (about recent Detroit quilt show)
3) December 26, 1939 (a holiday greetings letter)
4) May 3, 1940 (about Mary's intention to attend the upcoming Detroit show and mentioning the Gasperik 'Hungarian Girls' quilt).
5) May 31, 1940 (prize award)
Photo (circa 1969-1972) Elsie Gasperik Krueger with daughters Karen, Linda and Susan in Chicago with Colonial Quilting Bee prior to Elsie's dividing up quilts with her brother Elmer.
Videotape (March 1992) by Jeffrey Finn and catalog of "Quilts of Mary Gasperik" at Ravenswood Historic Site/Livermore (CA), March 14-15, 1992.
Photo (August 2005) Mary Gasperik's grand-daughters standing in front of American Quilt Legacy showcase displaying 'Colonial Quilting Bee' at the Museum of American History/Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC. Also photographs of quilt information cards.
As of July 23, 2011 Salser has located the following thirteen Detroit News articles in which Mary Gasperik is discussed. Included in this listing - but not separately numbered - are several Detroit News quilt columns which are relevant to Gasperik quilts or Gasperik's presence in Detroit. Listed in chronological order these are:
1) October 22, 1935, page 23, “Things Seen and Heard at the News’ Quilt Show”, by Edith B. Crumb. This is the first mention of the baseball story, it recounts how Gasperik sent quilts immediately and arrived unexpectedly, and it also records the name and address “Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove, Chicago IL.” as a Club member, for the first time it is believed, under an inset column called “These Members Belong to Quilt Club Corner”
January 16, 1936, page 27 article “But One Redhead Appears in This Prim Sewing Bee” by Edith B. Crumb, pictures and describes the quilt made by Mrs. Arthur Miller which probably inspired this Gasperik quilt #034, but Gasperik, of course, is not mentioned. Gasperik saw the Miller quilt at the very first Detroit quilt show she attended, in October 1935. The Miller quilt was also featured (reshown) at the last Detroit News quilt show, held in May 1940, where Gasperik got another good look at it.
2) February 11, 1936, page 24 “There Are 1467 Pieces in This Charming Top” by Edith B. Crumb. The first half of this column, and the pictured “Chicago Quilt Arrived Late” are devoted entirely to the subject of Mary Gasperik. The column retells the baseball story, reminds readers that Gasperik attended the last show, and mentions 3 Gasperik quilts (a black and white Double Feather Star, a red and white Double Feather Star under construction, and a Bridal Bouquet to be quilted after that).
3) November 7, 1936, page 12 “Many Cornerites Attended Our Sewing Circle Friday” by Edith B. Crumb. “Mrs. Arthur Miller had a letter from Mrs. Mary Gasperick [sic], one of our Chicago members, and Mrs. Gasperick is planning on sending four quilts to the next show. When she finds out that it won’t be held until April, perhaps she will be able to send six or seven. We hope so, don’t we?”
4) September 20, 1938, page 12 “Bureau Open for Quilts on Wednesday” reads, in part: “Yesterday a letter was received from Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago, saying she is sending over five finished quilts and two tops and, of course, she is coming to the show too. Last year she spent three days with us and brought two of her friends with her.”
5) October 7, 1938, page 1 “Detroit Woman’s Quilt Best of 2000 at Show” (no byline). “The second highest award of $25 for a finished appliqué quilt, went to a Chicago woman, Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue. Mrs. Gasperik will be in attendance at the show each day. A prize of $15 for the best quilt in the show, not a News pattern, was awarded Cecelia Knapp of Monroe, Mich.”
6) October 7, 1938, page 7 “List of Winners”. “FINISHED APPLIQUE QUILTS (News Patterns) First prize $25.00, Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago. Second prize, $15.00, Mrs. Elizabeth Aellig, Route 1, 15404 McGuire road, Inkster, Mich.”
7) October 9, 1938, page 9 “Quilt Show Sets Record of 18,000 Visitors in Hall” by Garnet Warfel features Gasperik as follows: “All day crowds surrounded Mrs. Mary Gasperik of Chicago, winner of one of the big prizes for the best appliquéd quilt. Mrs. Gasperik was radiant as she and her friend, Mrs. W. J. Reynolds, who accompanied her here from Chicago, told of getting “connected” with the local show. A base ball fan, Mrs. Gasperik went to the opening Chicago game of the 1935 World Series. There by her seat she found a Detroit News and read about Miss Crumb’s Quilt Club. The next year Mrs. Gasperik came to the quilt show. She came back in 1937 with four quilts to exhibit. She received four honorable mentions. This year she took a big prize. Mrs. Gasperik is Hungarian, but has lived in America 32 years.”
8) October 22, 1938, page 11 "Club Members Settle Down to Long Winter of Quilting" Pictures Gasperik Hungarian Girl quilt block and describes its construction in some detail (see quilt #14 for full text of description of that block). The article includes the statement: "Mrs. Arthur Miller said she had lots of letters about her quilt with the little patchwork ladies gathered around the little quilt." This indicates that Gasperik probably saw the Miller quilt in October 1938 (as well as at the October 1935 and May 1940 Detroit Quilt Shows), raising the possibility that she began work on her version of the Miller quilt earlier than 1940.
9) December 10,1938, page 10 “Quilt Club Announces Grab Bag”, by Edith Crumb. “Mrs. Lena Seles brought an appliquéd block of a Hungarian peasant boy to be used with the Hungarian girl peasant block which Mrs. Mary Gasperik of Chicago designed. Mrs. Bella Ware and Mrs. Seles have both copied the little girl and Mrs. Leontine Hardy is also going to make one like it.”
April 12, 1940, page 17 “Step Lively Is Slogan” by Edith B. Crumb announces upcoming quilt show to be held May 24, 25, 26. “Do you recognize our little Quilt Lady in silhouet who comes out every year ahead of the big show?....Remember – the dates are May 24, 25 and 26 (which will fall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and the place is the United States Naval Armory – east Jefferson avenue at the Belle Isle bridge That is the time when old friends will get together. We expect to have a crowd of quilters from Chicago…”
May 19, 1940, page 12 “May 22 Last Day for Entry” by Edith B. Crumb. “Quilts are coming from many states and visitors are coming from all over Michigan. A whole bus load of quilts is expected to arrive from Chicago.”
10) May 24, 1940, page 4 continuation of page 1 “Quilt Show Doors Open, no byline. “COMES FROM CHICAGO Another quilt comes from a Hungarian woman living in Chicago, Mrs. Mary Gasparik [sic]. It depicts her own life in this country from the time of her arrival in 1927 [sic – the year should be 1905). Mrs. Gasparik will be among a bus load of women coming to the show from Chicago. One of the lovely quilts shown is the patchwork lady design made by Mrs. Marjorie Miller. A real tiny quilt forms the center, being a quilt within a quilt and the patchwork ladies are seated about the center quilt, sewing away for dear life – each lady a little different in dress, coiffure, etc.”
11) May 25, 1940, page 4 “Quilt Beautiful as a Painting Wins Its Skilled Maker $50” by Garnet Warfel: “Mrs. Mary Gasparik [sic] of 9314 Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago, a prize winner of last year, won second prize, and Mrs. Arthur Miller, 12251 St. Mary’s avenue, won third prize with her lovely patchwork ladies’ quilt.”
12) May 28, 1940, page # not recorded, “Complete List Given of Quilt Show Winners” no byline: “Runners up in the finished appliqué group were Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago, Ill., and Mrs. Arthur Miller, 12251 St. Mary’s avenue.” Further on in this same article: “Children’s quilts selected by the judges were made by Mrs. H. Brinkman, 446 W. Golden Gate avenue… Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9413 [sic] Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago, Ill…”
13) November 9, 1940, page 10. “Cornerites Have Chatty Reunion” by Edith B. Crumb. “Yesterday afternoon the Quilt Club Corner members came back to the first meeting after a three weeks’ vacation and there was a great deal of chatting about what went on during that time. Mrs. Mary Sorensen went to Chicago for a visit and while there called on our friend Mrs. Mary Gasperik, 9314 Cottage Grove avenue. She and Mrs. Gasperik had a most enjoyable time talking over patterns, patches and quilt shows. Mrs. Gasperik has already started her quilt for the next Detroit News show and even though Mrs. Sorensen knows what it is she won’t tell me a single thing about it for she promised that she would keep it a secret.”
The 1940 show, held May 24-26 1940, turned out to be the last Detroit News quilt show. Following Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II, the quilt club’s Friday afternoon gatherings ceased in January 1942 and the Detroit News quilt shows never resumed. The quilt which Mrs. Sorensen saw in the making in November 1940 never had a chance to be shown or compete in the Detroit News Quilt Show. This quilt was probably Gasperik’s “Colonial Quilting Bee”, Gasperik’s salute to The Detroit News quilt club, quilt shows and their iconic quilt lady silhouet.
AVAILABLE SOURCES FOR QUILTMAKER: List other source materials about this quiltmaker such as photos, oral histories, book or newspaper publications, fame for some other reason or event.
Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman. Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair (Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993)102-103.
Merikay Waldvogel "One American Dream Comes True" Quilters Newsletter Magazine, March 2008, 46-49.
OWNERSHIP OF THIS QUILT IS: Choose whether the quilt is owned by a person (private) or a museum or public collection.
NAME OF QUILT OWNER: Add name of Quilt Owner if public other.
Linda Krueger MacLachlan
QUILT OWNER COUNTRY: Country of current quilt owner
AUTHOR/INTERVIEWEE: The person who brought the quilt for documentation is the source. Enter his/her name here.
Author/researcher; Blood relative of quiltmaker
OTHER RELATIONSHIP TO SOURCE: If you chose Other, for the relationship to the source, describe the relationship here.
Sister of quilt owner.
RELATIONSHIP OF SOURCE PERSON TO QUILT: Choose the best description of the relationship of the source to the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
OTHER INFORMATION ON SOURCE PERSON TO QUILT: If you chose other, please describe how the quilt maker participated in the design.
Grand-daughter Susan Salser began this research effort in 1991, after she and her two sisters divided up the quilts which belonged to their mother (Elsie Gasperik Krueger) who died in 1988. Her ongoing research has been fruitful and interesting.
QUILTMAKER'S MAIDEN NAME: Enter the maiden name of the quilt maker.
GENDER: Choose the gender of the quilt maker(s). Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
BIRTH DATE: Enter the birth date of the quilt maker (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).
DEATH DATE, IF APPLICABLE: Enter the date of death of the quilt maker (if applicable, as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).
QUILTMAKER'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND/TRIBAL AFFILIATION: Enter the ethnic background or tribal affiliation of the quilt maker.
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Enter the last level of education completed by the quilt maker.
QUILT MAKER'S COUNTRY OF BIRTH: Select the quilt maker's country of birth, if known.
IN WHICH KIND OF ENVIRONMENT DID THE QUILTMAKER GROW UP: Choose the kind of environment the quilt maker(s) are from. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
COUNTY: Enter the county where the quilt maker lives/lived.
CITY: Enter the city where the quilt maker lives/lived.
STATE: Enter the state where the quilt maker lives/lived.
COUNTRY: Enter the country where the quilt maker lives/lived.
FATHER'S NAME: Enter the name of the quilt maker's father.
FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE: Enter the birthplace of the quilt maker's father.
FATHER'S ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND: Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's father.
MOTHER'S NAME: Enter the name of the quilt maker's mother.
MOTHER'S BIRTHPLACE: Enter the birthplace of the quilt maker's mother.
MOTHER'S ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND: Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's mother.
SPOUSE'S/SPOUSES' ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND(S): Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's spouse.
SPOUSE'S/SPOUSES' OCCUPATION(S): Enter the occupation of the quilt maker's spouse.
Milk Dealer/Grocery Store Owner/Butcher
NUMBER OF CHILDREN: Enter the number of children of the quilt maker.
NUMBER OF FEMALE CHILDREN: Enter the number of daughters of the quilt maker.
1 (Elsie 1909-1988)
NUMBER OF MALE CHILDREN: Enter the number of sons of the quilt maker.
2 (Elmer and Stephen)
HOW DID THE QUILTMAKER LEARN TO QUILT: Choose the way(s) the quilt maker learned to quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
From guild or club member; Self-Taught
WHEN LEARNED TO QUILT (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY): Choose the age when the quilt maker learned to quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
WHY DOES/DID THE QUILTMAKER QUILT: Choose the best explanation(s) for why the quilt maker makes quilts. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.
OTHER, WHY THE QUILTMAKER QUILTS: If you chose Other, explain the why the quilt maker quilts.
To exhibit in shows held by her Tuley Park quilt club in Chicago, the Detroit News quilt show in Detroit, many Illinois State Fairs, at least one Indiana State Fair. She entered quilts in at least 2 Chicago department store contests. She made at least one quilt and one quilt top specifically for the 1939 New York Worlds Fair quilt contest. She also made children's quilts specifically for grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and wedding and wedding anniversary quilts for her son Elmer and grand-daughter Karen. Primarily, she wanted to make quilts because it was her life passion and her greatest talent. The occasions and venues to show them presented themselves. It should be noted that prior to Mary's emigration to America in late 1904, at age 16, she was an apprenticed needleworker in her native Hungary. The intricate and colorful floral embroideries traditional to Hungary lend themselves especially well to applique, the quilt style Mary preferred.
NAME OF QUILTING GROUP: If the quilt maker belongs to a group, enter the name of the group.
Detroit News Quilt Club
LOCATION OF GROUP: Enter where the group meets. Include the name of the building, city, county, and state.
Detroit, Michigan, but quilters who read the column were from various states.
SPECIALIZED ACTIVITIES/EVENTS OF QUILTING GROUP: Enter activities the group participates in.
Readers shared patterns and ideas through the newspaper column and met at the annual quilt show.
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF QUILTS MADE BY THIS QUILTER: Choose the number that approximates how many quilts the quilt maker has made.
more than 50
DOES/DID QUILTMAKER SELL QUILTS: Has the quilt maker ever sold a quilt or sold quilting services?
DOES/DID QUILTMAKER TEACH QUILTING: Is the quilt maker also a quilt teacher?
PHOTO CREDIT: Credit for photographer.
ACCESS AND COPYRIGHT INFORMATION FOR IMAGE: Choose whether this TIF is available to use other than in this database.
FOR HOLDER OF COPYRIGHT, CONTACT: Enter the name of the person or institution that owns the copyright to the image.
For additional images of this quilt that require a separate record.
Detroit News Quilt History Project
Detroit News Quilt History Project
With its Quilt Club Corner column, association of registered members, sponsorship of an annual quilt show, and underwriting of a quilting program on WWJ-radio, The Detroit News played a major role in quilting in the 1930s.
American Quilts of Patriotism and Poli...
Sikarskie, Amanda Grace
American Quilts of Patriotism and Political Commentary
Sikarskie, Amanda Grace
The quilts represented in this essay survey three centuries of American political life, spanning from quilts celebrating the birth of the Republic to quilts reacting to the events of September 11, 2001. The meanings and visual rhetoric of these quilts were shaped by wars, presidents and policies, new contacts with other cultures, innovations in design and technology, and changing social relations. Through all of these changes, women (and men) in America have given voice to their patriotism and political views through quilts.
Feminism and Nationalism in the Constr...
Berlo, Janet Catherine
Feminism and Nationalism in the Construction of a Quilt Heritage in the United States in the 20th Century
Berlo, Janet Catherine
Janet Catherine Berlo describes feminism and nationalism in the designing and constructing of Quilt Heritage in 20th-Century United States. Berlo hopes to make a better understanding of the multi-layered history that surrounds quilts.
American Quilts Empowered Immigrant Wo...
American Quilts Empowered Immigrant Women
Quiltmaking could be an empowering form of self-expression for immigrants to the United States at the turn of the 20th Century, as in this case study of Hungarian-born Chicago quilter, Mary Mihalovits Gasperik, written by her grand-daughter, researcher Susan Salser.
Mary Gasperik and the Detroit...
Mary Gasperik and the Detroit News "Quilt Club Corner"
May; 12; 2005
Mary Gasperik (1888-1969): Her Lif...
Mary Gasperik (1888-1969): Her Life and Her Quilts
May; 12; 2005
Gasperik 01: Masterpiece Quilts
Gasperik 01: Masterpiece Quilts
May; 12; 2005
Two Dozen Quilt-Makers Work Busily
Crumb, Edith B.
Two Dozen Quilt-Makers Work Busily
Crumb, Edith B.
January; 16; 1936
A Quilt Club Corner column including a list of Quilt Club members, a coupon for Quilt Club membership, and a pattern for a Beggar's Patch quilt.
Quilt to Be Finished for Show
Crumb, Edith B.
Quilt to Be Finished for Show
Crumb, Edith B.
November; 7; 1936
A Quilt Club Corner column including a list of Quilt Club members and a coupon for Quilt Club membership.
The Quilts of Mary Gasperik
The Quilts of Mary Gasperik
In 1992, three of Mary Gasperik's granchildren, worked with other family members to present the quilts of their grandmother.
The Quilts of Mary Gasperik
The Quilts of Mary Gasperik
March; 14; 1992
An exhibit catalog for a display of quilts made by Mary Gasperik at Ravenswood Historic Site, Livermore, California. March 14-15, 1992.
You Have Until Nov. 10 to Enter Your Q...
Crumb, Edith B.
You Have Until Nov. 10 to Enter Your Quilt
Crumb, Edith B.
October; 16; 1933
A portion of a Beauty in the Home column including an announcement about the Quilt Club Contest and letters from Quilt Club Corner members.
Lady Making Patch Quilt Silhouette
The Detroit News
Lady Making Patch Quilt Silhouette
The Detroit News
December; 14; 1928
A pattern leaflet for a silouhette of a lady making patchwork that was distributed through the Beauty in the Home column in the Detroit News
My Dear Mrs. Gasperik
Pecsenye, Steve and Elsie
My Dear Mrs. Gasperik
Pecsenye, Steve and Elsie
A request for a quilting pattern.
Mary Gasperik Quilters Hall of Fame In...
Mary Gasperik Quilters Hall of Fame Induction Exhibit
July; 22; 2021
The Mary Gasperik Hall of Fame Exhibit, was held at the Marion Public Library from July 15-17, 2021 as part of the Quilters Hall of Fame Celebration 2021.
Chicago; Illinois; United States
Mary Gasperik made more than 80 quilts while living in Chicago at the height of the quilt revival of the 1930s and 40s.18-47-2
Colonial Sewing B...