On this day in 1931 Nobel prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children in a working-class African-American family. Her 1987 novel “Beloved” set in post-Civil War Ohio includes this vivid reference to quilts:

Kneeling in the keeping room where she usually went to talk-think it was clear why Baby Suggs was so starved for color. There wasn’t any except for two orange squares in a quilt that made the absence shout. The walls of the room were slate-colored, the floor earth-brown, the wooden dresser the color of itself, curtains white, and the dominating feature, the quilt over an iron cot, was made up of scraps of blue serge, black, brown and gray wool–the full range of the dark and the muted that thrift and modesty allowed. In that sober field, two patches of orange looked wild–like life in the raw.


This Nine Patch quilt was made by Catherine Miller Gingerich around 1880 in Iowa. The 68” x 79” quilt is hand and machine pieced and hand quilted and tufted. Old repairs are visible on the quilt with dark grey patches appliqued over worn areas of the top that have been quilted over in a teacup pattern. The quilt is part of the Illinois State Museum collection.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to read more about it’s history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view.



Quilt Index partners

Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance