59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum


Multiple makers

Martha's Vineyard


Gift of Patricia Kirwin

Hammett, Pease, Swarz, Forman, Collins, Fisher: Some are familiar Vineyard names, and all appear on this quilt. But the story behind this quilt is unknown.

Signature quilts became popular in the middle of the 1800s. They were commonly made for special occasions, as gifts, and occasionally as church fundraisers. Sometimes quilts such as these were made by a group. Other times one woman would ask her friends to sign individual blocks, which she then sewed into her quilt.

This example is a variant of the flying geese pattern. The women who signed their names to the quilt were from Chilmark and Edgartown.

The bedcover was dubbed the "Mystery Quilt" by students in the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. It contains clues that are helping the students learn how to use primary-source documents and material culture to explore the history of the Island.

Drawing from resources in the Museum's archives and library, the students are working with educators and curators to learn as much as possible about the quilt and its makers with the goal of mounting an exhibition in the Museum's Spotlight Gallery.

With thanks to the following individuals who have adopted this object for one year: Mimi Sandford.