Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865), the New-York Historical Society presents a groundbreaking traveling exhibition, Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, organized by the American Textile History Museum. The exhibition uses quilts, textiles, clothing, and other artifacts to connect deeply moving and insightful personal stories about the war, its causes, and its aftermath with the broader national context and public history.

Made for “AK” in Pennsylvania by an unidentified quiltmaker, this textile illustrates the life of a Zouave soldier. It includes fabrics used by seamstresses at the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia to make Zouave uniforms. “AK” may have been Adam Keller or Albert Keen, both of whom served with the 88th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, which boasted two companies of Zouaves. Collection of Kelly Kinzle.

Textiles were integral to the Civil War— physically, economically, ideologically, and emotionally—and linked soldiers and civilians. The exhibition builds on recent scholarship in social and economic history to tell of the events that led to the war, the stories of men and women affected by the Civil War, and the opportunities and challenges that followed it. Through a wealth of artifacts drawn from around the nation, the exhibition will invite visitors to see and acknowledge the human experiences beneath the veneer of Blue and Gray.

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