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Henry Ford Museum Opens Quilting Genius February 14 posted: 3/16/2004
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Category: History Method: All Series: In The News
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Family of quilt pioneer Susan McCord to donate 12th McCord quilt to collection

Dearborn, Mich.—(February 2, 2004)—Quilts are more than just colorful patterns intricately sewn together. They are highly detailed works of art that serve as narration to a particular era or event.

In February, the quilt collections of The Henry Ford will be spotlighted in Quilting Genius, a new exhibit opening at Henry Ford Museum February 14 through May 9. The exhibit is free with museum admission. More than 30 quilts from the 1800s to the 1980s will be on display, including 11 quilts from renowned 19th-century quiltmaker, Susan McCord.

As a special gift, the family of Susan McCord will be donating a 12th quilt to the museum’s exhibit and the last known quilt of its kind in existence. The quilt, pieced in the pattern called “pine tree,” will be unveiled at a special sold-out luncheon preview on Thursday, February 12.

“We are so fortunate to be receiving what is one of the last pieces in the McCord quilt collection,” said Nancy Villa Bryk, Domestic Life Curator for the Henry Ford. “We are most thankful to Miss Mildred McKesson, great-granddaughter of Susan McCord for donating this wonderful quilt to The Henry Ford,” she continued. Miss McKesson is pleased to donate the quilt in memory of her brother, Charles McKesson and sister Ruth Eleanor Hayter.

Bryk went on to remark, “All of the quilts on display are stunning. People will feel energized by the beauty of them and see the technical expertise that it took to create them.”

The quilts are from The Henry Ford’s permanent collection and represent various parts of the country as well as a diverse group of quiltmakers with unique sewing techniques and interesting stories to tell.

One such quiltmaker was Herbert James Smith, a British- born tailor that sewed for the United States Army from the late l870s until his retirement about l930. His quilt, World War One Pieced Quilt, is sewn of heavy wool flannels and felts that were surely uniform scraps and is the only quilt in The Henry Ford collection sewn by a man.

Other quiltmakers include Henrietta Johnson Wilson who was a wealthy physician’s wife who spared no expense making her Star of Bethlehem quilt, and Susan Nokes McCord who became famous for her use of color and extraordinary eye for design.

Media may download artwork for the exhibit at For more information on Quilting Genius, please call 313-982-6001 or visit our website at

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, The Henry Ford, located in Dearborn, Michigan was founded in 1929 by automotive pioneer Henry Ford. This history destination includes Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, The Benson Ford Research Center and The Ford Rouge Factory Tour (opening May 1, 2004). The Henry Ford, America's Greatest History Attraction, is the history destination that brings the American Experience to life.

Contact: Andrew Johnson 313-982-6126

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