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  Civil War Era Quilts now on Display at the Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery   

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LOCKPORT, IL— The Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery’s new exhibition presents a fresh perspective on the Civil War by uncovering the fascinating stories of Illinois women who rigorously supported their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, and friends from the home front. Civil War Quilters: Loyal Hearts of Illinois reveals the hidden accounts of these devoted women. The exhibition will be on display at the ISM Lockport Gallery through October 17, 2014. Special events and talks are scheduled during the exhibition, including a tour by the exhibition curator on August 10 and a first-person portrayal of a Civil War era nurse on September 28. Additional information will be on our website.

In the days following the April 1861 Confederate bombardment on Fort Sumter, dedicated men from Illinois rushed to join the Union Army. With vigor equal to the enlisting men, loyal women of Illinois organized to support the soldiers on the field and in the hospital, as they braced themselves for the changes in family and community life the war would bring.
Following the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, President Lincoln issued an appeal for quilts, other bedding, clothing, and foodstuffs for the Union troops. While Illinois women made or gathered quilts for the soldiers, they also created highly decorated quilts for fund-raising auctions to support the war effort. Soldier's quilts wore out with hard use, and few have survived. However, other quilts of the era that have been carefully preserved help tell the stories of these most trying of times. The Civil War-era quilts in the exhibition provide a passage through which to explore the lives and wartime support activities of the women who made them.

Each quilt on exhibit has its own unique story and individual attributes, even though they were collectively created in the same time period. One is a particularly rare quilt that has recently received national attention: a Log Cabin quilt from Anna, Illinois, that was pieced together with fabrics including scraps from both Union and Confederate uniforms. The uniform scraps reportedly belonged to the maker's sons who fought on both sides of the war. An album quilt on display was made by Martha Jane Gourley (Gehlman), a close neighbor of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. Miss Gourley's friends and family, whose names adorn this quilt, are from northern as well as southern states, representing the range of families who settled the "West," as Illinois was then considered. In addition to the quilts, a wide variety of artifacts demonstrate the expansive range of women's work for the war.

For more information contact John Lustig, Director or Jennifer Jaskowiak, Curator at or (815) 838-7400.

The Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery is located on the first floor of the historic Norton Building at 201 West 10th Street in Lockport, Illinois, and is fully accessible to all physically challenged individuals. Museum hours are noon to 5:00 pm on Sunday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Museum is closed Saturdays and State Holidays. Admission is free. For information on exhibitions and related programs, becoming a member of the Friends of the Lockport Gallery, directions, or to schedule a group tour of ten or more, please visit the museum online at or call (815) 838-7400. The Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery is part of the Illinois State Museum system, including sites in Springfield, Rend Lake, Chicago, and Lewistown.


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Last updated 2014-05-21, 16:30 by dc