Lillian Causey, c. 1936

Index of American Design

At the time Lillian Causey painted this extraordinary quilt, the genre we now call Baltimore Album was not yet well-studied or defined. The datasheet, paired here with Causey’s rendering, provides new documentation of this high-style quilt. 

Rather than show an American tradition of making do amid adversity, the IAD reflected a record of American design that corresponded to traditions of the past that was predominantly enjoyed by privileged white Americans, mostly from the East coast, and predominantly high-style. These fancy quilts shared little in common with the scrappy “make-do” ones that became more common during the Great Depression.  

Among these are four paintings of bedcovers that we now call “Baltimore Album Quilts,” including this one documenting a quilt now in the the International Quilt Museum (1997.007.0319), shown below.