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Signature Quilt

Curated Submission
Nova Scotia, Canada
1875 - 1900
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
195 x 166
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Pieced, quilted, embroidered
Gift of Dr. Howard Gorman
Textile Museum of Canada T91.0361

In the mid-1800s, Victorian quilters began a popular tradition of embroidering the signatures of community members into their quilts to honour friends and family. Some were made for those who had moved away as remembrances of loved ones back home. This piece is likely a fundraising quilt, made specifically to raise money for a particular charity.
In one of the quilt’s corners are the embroidered words "Doctor’s Cove School," perhaps the beneficiary of the money raised. The other blocks are embroidered with the names of students who attended the school in Doctor’s Cove, Nova Scotia. The school was constructed circa 1872. In The Annual Report of the Common, Academic, and Normal and Model Schools in Nova Scotia for the year ending October 31, 1872, Shelburne County school inspector W.H. Richan praises the institution:

“In many sections the percentage of attendance was larger than heretofore. In this connection one school is deserving of particular notice. I refer to that at Doctor’s Cove, taught by Miss Letitia Wilson, in which 71 pupils made an average of about 62. This was not only the largest but also the most efficient miscellaneous school in the county.”

More than 100 years later, the names on this quilt are a precious glimpse into the lives of a generation of young Doctor’s Cove residents, a tangible document of a moment in local history.

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