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					                             Civil War Quilts

Wisconsin Model Academic Standards Alignment:

Social Studies B.4.1 – Identify and examine various sources of information that
are used for constructing an understanding of the past, such as artifacts,
documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, paintings, architecture, oral
presentations, graphs, and charts.
Social Studies B.4.3 – Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to
understand the lives or ordinary and extraordinary people, place them in time
and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events.
Social Studies B.4.4 – Compare and contrast changes in contemporary life with
life in the past by looking at social, economic, political, and cultural roles played
by individuals and groups.
Social Studies B.4.9 – Describe examples of cooperation and interdependence
among individuals, groups, and nations.
Social Studies D.4.7 – Describe how personal economic decisions, such as
deciding what to buy, what to recycle, or how much to contribute to people in
need, can affect the lives of people in Wisconsin, the United States, and the
Social Studies E.4.12 – Give examples of important contributions made by
Wisconsin citizens, United States citizens, and world citizens.
Social Studies E.8.5 – Describe and explain the means by which groups and
institutions meet the needs of individuals and societies.

Goal: Students will discover the important role of women in supporting soldiers
in the Civil War.

  1) Students will read a historic appeal for goods for a Sanitary Commission
      fair held in Chicago during the Civil War.
  2) Students will list at least two ways that Civil War soldiers might have
      used a quilt.
  3) Students will compose a letter from Catherine Littlefield Farmer to Joseph
      or vice versa expressing feelings, hardships, and joys of life during the
      Civil War.

Quilting has served as a way for women to show their patriotism and support
their country. This became very clear in the Civil War. The Civil War broke out
in 1861 and within days of their husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers being
called to fight, women jumped to action too. Just after President Lincoln called
for troops, “Northern women were organizing relief efforts, aware of the need to
supplement the inadequate supplies of bedding and clothing available through the
government and northern factories. Throughout the North ten to fifteen local
Dorcas, Ladies’ Aid, and sewing societies solicited money, donations of clothing,
and bedding and raw materials from local merchants from which they made
additional clothing, blankets and quilts for the army.” (From Hedges, Elaine, Pat
Ferrero and Jilie Silber. Hearts and Hands: Women, Quilts and American Society,
pp. 72-3.) Another female-run organization that supplied food, bedding, and
medicine to the soldiers was the United States Sanitary Commission.

Through these organizations, it is estimated that women supplied soldiers with
as many as 250,000 quilts and comforts (a tied quilt with heavy batting). Women
sent quilts belonging to their families and they also made quilts and tied
comforts specifically for the war effort. Some quilts were sent directly to soldiers
in camps or hospitals. Others were sold at huge fairs to raise money for other
supplies. These fairs lasted for days and were very successful. Even Abraham
Lincoln, President of the United States during the Civil War, said of the women
organizing and contributing to the fairs, “I have never studied the art of paying
compliments to women; but I must say, that if all that has been said by orators
and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the
women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct in this great
war . . . God bless the women of America.” (Hedges et. al, p. 74)

Supplement – Add to
Inadequate – Lacking, not enough
Dorcas Ladies’ Aid – A group of women who did charitable work
Solicited – Asked for
Raw materials – Unfinished goods, such as material
Orators – Those known for their gift in public speaking
Conduct -- Behavior

While we don’t know for sure whether Catherine Littlefield Farmer of Dale made
quilts for soldiers to use or to sell in a Sanitary Commission fair, it is likely that
she did. We do know that Catherine’s husband Joseph served in the Union
Army. The quilt de do have from Catherine was made as a keepsake for her and
her husband while she anxiously awaited his return from war. Making the
thousands of tiny stitches may have helped her get through long days of
Figure 1: Catherine Littlefield Farmer's quilt.
Figure 2: A detail of the pattern of Catherine's quilt: Coxcomb floral applique

    1) What do you think Catherine Littlefield Farmer might have been feeling
       as she sat and sewed the thousands of stitches on her quilt? Write a
       journal entry from Catherine’s perspective describing those feelings.
    2) Knowing that Catherine’s husband was in the war, and that she was a
       Union sympathizer and a quilter, do you think she might have responded
       to the following call for goods to sell at a Sanitary Commission Fair?

        “Let us all then work for this grand object – which is ultimately, the relief
        of our brave men – the sons of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and
        Minnesota – now languishing in hospitals for the comforts we can send
        them. To the Aid Societies and Union Leagues of the Northwest we
        appeal most earnestly. From every Aid Society and Union League may
        we not expect a box or package of articles for the Fair? Anything will be
        acceptable and nothing will come amiss.

        Let each and all do something for this grand occasion. Invite your friends
        and neighbors to aid you in the work; do not rest satisfied until you have
        manufactured or secured something for this Soldiers’ Fair – Then label the
        offering with your name and residence, and send it to the Committee
   appointed for your State, to the Aid Society of your county or town or, if
   you prefer, send it directly to us, care of the Chicago Sanitary
   Commission, when we will acknowledge its receipt by letter. But let
   every one to whom this appeal comes, DO SOMETHING.”

   Amiss – In this case, something that is not needed or has no use

3) Imagine the ways in which a quilt might have been helpful to soldiers in
   the Civil War. Besides keeping someone warm, in what other ways might
   quilts have been appreciated? (List at least two other ways quilts might
   have been used)

4) Look at the pictures of Catherine and Joseph. Imagine that you were a
   wife left behind or a soldier far from home during the Civil War. What
   might you write in a letter to your spouse. Imagine that you are either
   Catherine or Joseph and compose a letter to the other. Write about your
   feelings, trials and hardships, and small joys.
Figure 3: Catherine Littlefield Farmer, seated at left, with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-
Figure 4: Joseph Farmer in his Union Army Uniform

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