The Victorian Crazy Quilt as Comfort and Discomfort


From The Quilt Journal - An International Review, Vol. 3, No. 2.


By: Przybysz, Jane

Editor Notes: The significance of quilt making and other needlework to the women who accomplished it and the societies in which it was made, has been discussed for some centuries by both observers and practitioners of the crafts. For some who sewed it was elevatintg and ennobling, for others it was apparently largely drudgery. Very few accounts, however, looked at the implications of quilt making for women's roles and societal change. Thus the discovery by Jane Przybysz of the unpublished musings of an accomplished female writer who used the crazy quilt, an icon of Victorian ideals, as the central symbol in a discussion of changing values, is of unusual importance. Ms. Przybysz here publishes the manuscript forthe first time and discusses some of its implications.

Author Notes: Jane Przybysz works at the McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, as the Principal Investigator on the South-eastern Crafts Revival Project, a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored study of the networks of individuals and organizations that promoted the revival of craft in thesoutheastern United States during the first half of the twenti-eth century. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. She gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Dr. Wilbur Meneray, Head of Special Collections; Sylvia Metzinger, who served as the ActingHead of Special Collections in Dr. Menaray's absence; Leon Miller, Head of Manuscripts; and Courtney Page, Administrative Assistant at the Tulane University Library.