Reservation Hotline: 800 256 4024
Reservation Hotline: 800 256 4024

Stories in Stitches: Quilts from the ETHS Collection

601 S. Gay Street | Knoxville, TN 37902
Knoxville, TN 37902

(865) 215-8824
  • Date(s): October 19, 2017 to January 2, 2018
  • Event Times: Monday-Friday 9:00am-4:00pm, Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Price: Adults $5, 55+ $4, 16 & Under are Free, Everyone is Free on Sunday!
  • Location: East Tennessee History Center

East Tennessee families treasure quilts made by their ancestors. Besides warming and decorating the bed, quilts also serve as reminders of important events—births, weddings, service to our country, the death of loved ones. Often, these memories are preserved in notes attached to the quilts or through stories handed down to younger generations. Sometimes notes are lost and memories fade, leaving families with a "mystery quilt."
Did Grandma Jones or Granny Smith make this quilt? Or, was it Aunt Jane? When did she make it? Why did she choose this pattern? What caused this stain or that tear? These are some of the mysteries that quilt historians try to address through genealogical research and technical analysis.
From histories handed down to mysteries that remain, the new feature exhibition at the Museum of East Tennessee History provides visitors the opportunity to learn the "stories in stitches" from the quilts that have been entrusted to the East Tennessee Historical Society. Stories in Stitches features more than two dozen quilts with dates ranging from c. 1820 to 2001. The exhibition will be on display in the Rogers-Claussen Feature Gallery of the East Tennessee History Center from August 7, 2017 - January 2, 2018. Stories in Stitches is dedicated to Linda Claussen and Ginny Rogers for their years of service and support of the East Tennessee Historical Society’s quilt collection.
When the East Tennessee Historical Society was founded in 1834, early collection efforts focused on books and manuscripts. In more recent decades, objects began to be added, and the idea of displaying them in a museum grew. The ETHS Permanent Collection acquired its first quilt in 1992, one year before the Museum of East Tennessee History opened on the first floor of the renovated Customs House. Now a part of the expanded East Tennessee History Center, the museum and its collection includes more than 100 quilts.
The ETHS Permanent Collection focuses on quilts made or used in one of East Tennessee’s 35 counties. An acquisitions committee reviews potential additions, evaluating the quilt’s history, condition, and importance to the collection as a whole. Some quilts are displayed in the museum’s signature exhibition, Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee. Others are cared for in climate-controlled storage and are brought out for special events or exhibitions like this one.
The exhibition highlights more than two dozen quilts in a variety of fabrics, and patterns, and highlights some of the families who have made and cherished them. Patterns include everything from Rose of Sharon and “Knoxville Crazy Quilt” to a Civil War memory quilt and one pieced together out of clothing labels. The quilters range from John Sevier’s wife Bonny Kate to the Smoky Mountain Quilters of Tennessee.

About East Tennessee Historical Society
Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society is widely acknowledged as one of the most active history organizations in the state and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in programming and education. For 183 years the East Tennessee Historical Society has been helping East Tennesseans hold on to our unique heritage—recording the events, collecting the artifacts, and saving the stories that comprise the history we all share.

The Museum of East Tennessee History is open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday; 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday; and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Sunday. Museum Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for seniors, and FREE for children under 16. Each Sunday admission is FREE to all and ETHS members always receive FREE admission. The Museum is located in the East Tennessee History Center, 601 South Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37901. For more information about booking the exhibition, scheduling a school tour, or visiting the museum, call (865) 215-8824, email eths@eastTNhistory.org, or visit www.easttnhistory.org.


Stories in Stitches: Quilts from the ETHS Collection
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  • East Tennessee History Center
  • Adults $5, 55+ $4, 16 & Under are Free, Everyone is Free on Sunday!