On this day in 1906, world-famous dancer, singer and actress Josephine Baker (Freda Josephine McDonald) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Baker, who ran away from home to dance in vaudeville and on Broadway at age 13, was the first African American woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou, 1934). Baker moved to Paris in 1925 and there became one of the best-known entertainers in France and Europe. Baker died in 1975, two days after her last performance in Paris.

Noted quilt historian, Cuesta Benberry of St. Louis, made this quilt top with the help of Annette Ammen, Lois Mueller and George Ammen (Annette’s husband), who drew many of the designs. Each block signifies something of importance in African American women’s quiltmaking experiences.

Cuesta Benberry’s son donated this quilt, along with the rest of Benberry’s quilt ephemera collection, to the Michigan State University Museum when she passed away in 2008.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.


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Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance