Preserving Cultural Heritage: A Tribute to Amish Quilts

May 2, 2023

Written by Sharon Sparkes

In mid-April, the Garden Spot Village Quilters, along with the Director of Mission Advancement Wendy Nagle, took a trip to the LancasterHistory Museum for a quilt turning. This event was a tribute to the late Dr. Patricia Thomson Herr, who was a collector of textiles and helped to bring the Esprit Collection of Amish Quilts back to Lancaster County. The event was a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the rich history of the Amish quilts.

The highlight of the event was the lecture given by Professor of Art History, Gloria Mast. Professor Mast has family connections to the Amish community, which added a personal touch to her lecture. She gave a comprehensive history of the Amish quilts, and shared the story of how peddlers would bring textiles from Philadelphia to the Amish quilters in Lancaster County. She explained how the high-quality fabrics that were no longer in fashion with those in the city found love in the plain community, as they would purchase them to create the beautiful quilts. Her storytelling, which tied in the New Holland geography of the Welsh Mountain and local routes, brought the quilts to life and gave a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of the quilts.

The Amish quilts feature a range of patterns, from bold and colorful designs to more subdued and simple variations. The collection is a testament to the diversity and excellence of “woman’s work” of the Amish community, and how their quilts represent their way of life and beliefs.

Overall, the Garden Spot Village Quilters’ trip to the LancasterHistory Museum for the quilt turning was a wonderful event that celebrated the rich history and cultural significance of Amish quilts. The lecture by Professor Mast was informative and engaging. The event was a testament to the power of quilting to bring people together and to preserve the cultural heritage of our community.

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