Recording our History–Victorian Style

Harriet PowersAcclaimed Quilt MakerAthens, Georgia

Harriet Powers
Acclaimed Quilt Maker
Athens, Georgia

“[Harriet Powers] is an extraordinary person whose name will probably never be in a history book.” ~Dr. David Messer, Clayton College & State University

Honor is due to Dr. David Messer. Because of his nomination, Harriet Powers, an acclaimed American Quilt Maker, was inducted into the “Georgia Women of Achievement” wall of fame. A documentary about Harriet Powers with remarks from Dr. David Messer is posted on the Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPS) Television website.

Foremost, we know about the skillful quilting techniques of Georgia native Harriet Powers because of Jennie Smith, an Athens, Georgia art teacher. Ms. Powers dictated portions of her life experiences to Ms. Smith. As a result, Harriet Powers’ quilts are on display at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston).

Civil War-EraCalico Day DressCourtesy: Originals by Kay

Civil War-Era
Calico Day Dress
Courtesy: Originals by Kay

The featured photo above is an Adam and Eve panel on Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt.  Compare the featured photograph with the picture on the left, and you can see that Ms. Powers has quilted Eve in a Victorian Calico Day Dress.  In other words, she blends West African and Victorian styles on her quilt.

Only one post-war photograph exists of Harriet Powers, a former slave who lived in Georgia (CSA) during the American Civil. To portray Ms. Powers as a Civil War Living Historian would require research in regards to the customs of women in Athens, Georgia during the Civil War-era.  Based on her life’s story, what inspired Harriet Powers to record history  on her turn of the 20th Century quilts?

Highlighting the good in humanity,
Ann DeWitt


Featured Photo: Public Domain

Harriet Powers Bible Quilt

Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt