Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Woman’s Rights Quilt

Emma Civey Stahl (American)
ca. 1875
Made in Illinois, United States
70 × 69 1/2 in. (177.8 × 176.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Funds from various donors, 2011
Accession Number:
Not on view
This unique pictorial quilt tells two distinct stories. Three of the circular appliquéd vignettes depict soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, assuredly still a fresh memory when the quilt was made. Three other blocks feature dynamic scenes of social activism in the fight for women’s rights. In one vignette, the reformer leaves her husband and child, a “WOMAN’S RIGHTS” banner slung jauntily over her shoulder. In another she is driving a horse-drawn cart, undoubtedly going to the meeting depicted in a third circle, where she vociferously lectures the cowering audience. The quiltmaker’s comical take on one of the most serious issues of the late nineteenth century raises the question of her own viewpoint on the subject.
The quilt is thought to have been made by Emma Civey Stahl, born ca. 1860 in Iowa or Illinois. It was passed down to her daughter Marion Stahl Gabriel (1882-1965) who lived her whole life in Illinois. When Marion Gabriel was in the Order of the Eastern Star nursing home in Rockford, Illinois, she gave the quilt to the home's administrator, Mrs. Martha Livingston, ca. 1962-3, who then gave it to her son and daughter-in-law, John and Nancy W. Livingston soon afterward. They owned it until at least 1988 (or later) and then passed it down to their daughter, Elizabeth Livingston Yeager, who is selling the quilt through dealer Julie Silber.
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