cover image Alabama Quilts: Wilderness through World War II, 1682–1950

Alabama Quilts: Wilderness through World War II, 1682–1950

Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff and Carole Ann King. Univ. of Mississippi, $40 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4968-3140-8

The late Huff (Mississippi Quilts), a quilt expert, and King, a museum curator (who completed the book after Huff’s death in 2019), deliver a beautifully illustrated and lovingly written history of Alabama quilts. As Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, writes in his introduction, the book examines both “styles and fabrics” and “change and continuity in the culture of a Deep South state.” The coauthors start with the first known Alabama quilt, brought into the state (long before statehood) from New England, and end in 1950, when quilting fell out of fashion because it reminded folks of “making do” during the Depression. In between, they highlight creations from different communities, including a colorful Chariot Wheel of red and blue checks against a green cotton background contributed by a Native American, and an examples of the Pig Pen design popular with African American quilters, in which “rows of horizontal and vertical bars” surround a central block “of four or six patches in alternating light and dark values.” They also illuminate historical context, as with Civil War–era gunboat quilts (made during a fund-raising drive to build the Confederate fleet) and WWII-era feed-sack quilts (an adaptation to wartime rationing). History and craft buffs will be enthralled with this superb overview. (Nov.)