Spend some time Down by the Old Mill Stream
Book edited by URI faculty wraps up Quilt Documentation Project
KINGSTON, R.I.-- June 28, 2000 -- It contains a full color photo of a
quilt created by Samuel Slater's second wife. Another image shows a quilt
made by the Women's Christian Temperance Union on Block Island, which contains
the signatures of some the island's founding family members.
The 328-page book, Down by the Old Mill Stream: Quilts in Rhode Island,
is the culmination of the eight-year Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project,
organized by University of Rhode Island Professor Linda Welters of Peace
Dale, chair of the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and
Design, and her colleague, Margaret Ordonez, of Cumberland, URI associate
professor of textiles.
Through detailed historical essays, 30 vignettes, 63 color plates and
94 black and white photos, Down by the Old Mill Stream makes Rhode
Island history come alive through its families who came to power the mills.
"We didn't find any quilts with quahogs on them, but we did find
a quilt during the documentation that survived the Hurricane of '38,"
said University of Rhode Island Professor, Linda Welters, co-editor of
the just published book, Down by the Old Mill Stream: Quilts in Rhode
The book, unveiled tonight at the URI Textiles Gallery, is the result
of research done on nearly 900 quilts that were analyzed by URI textiles
professors, students and volunteers since 1992 at communities throughout
Rhode Island, from Woonsocket to Westerly and Coventry
"Some people would come to us with their quilts in bags, and then
when they learned about their significance, they would leave with them neatly
folded, carrying them carefully," Ordonez said.
Welters and Ordonez edited the volume and also wrote numerous pieces.
Other writers include Nancy Potter, URI English professor emerita; Cathy
Cerny, former URI textiles professor emerita; Gail Mohanty, of Cumberland,
director of the Slater Mill Historic Site in Pawtucket; Alda Kaye,
former curator of the URI Historic Textile and Custome Collection, and Martin
Bide, professor of textiles.
Tonight, URI honors the volunteers and quilt owners who made the documentation
project and subsequent book possible. It also pays tribute to the Rhode
Island Committee for the Humanities, which funded all phases of the project,
the URI Foundation and Cranston Print Works.
Through their research, Welters and Ordonez found that the quilts express
Rhode Island's unique social history. The book published by The Kent State
University Press connects history, culture, and technology to quilts in
Rhode Island and details developments in the textile industry that affected
materials available to quilt makers.
The essays in Part I examine technological developments and textile production
spinning, weaving, dyeing and printing as illustrated in quilt
fabrics. Additional pieces link quilts to the state's historic, cultural
and social heritage. "These essays reflect Rhode Island's relationship
to the textile industry, and how it is depicted in the quilts," Welters
Shorter stories in Part 2 look at 30 quilts dating from the mid-18th
century through 1935.
"Even if someone's not a quilt lover, they will enjoy the history
of the textile industry in Rhode Island," Ordonez said. "Through
the book, you'll get to know the families and people of Rhode Island. It's
also a wonderful reference for those who want to learn about quilts from
the 19th century," Ordonez added.
Other states had completed such projects, but Rhode Island lagged behind,
The project was a collaborative effort from the beginning, involving
faculty, staff, and students at URI, consultants, newspaper reporters, volunteers
from local quilters' organizations, staff of public libraries, historical
houses, museums and the general public.
There were three phases to the project: 1. registering, examining and
photographing close to 900 quilts; 2. exhibitions at museums and historical
societies, including those in Canada; 3. presentation and publication of
the project's findings through lectures, articles and the book.
The book can be purchased at Amazon.com or by calling Bookmasters at
1-800-247-6553. Locally, people can purchase the book by calling Valerie
Morgan at URI's Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design,
401-874-4574. All proceeds will go to the URI Foundation.
For Information: Linda Welters 401-874-4525,
Margaret Ordonez 401-874-5481,
Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116