Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve celebrated Labor Day with its 15th annual quilt display in the historic limestone barn — this year with an honorable theme and a twist — celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
In the barn, one woman demonstrated quilt making dressed in the 1920s fashion.
“Women would use their quilts as an avenue to get their voices heard,” said Heather Brown, Tallgrass Prairie Chief of Interpretation. “They felt that quilting and sewing was really more of a ‘woman’s job.’ They felt that maybe it was a little counterproductive to show such a thing in their quilts because it’s their duty to be sewing. They spent time working on the movement itself, just trying to get women the right to vote.”
After doing research, Brown found the connection between quilts and the suffrage movement interesting.
As she was demonstrating quilt-making, she had been working on a quilt she made with other scraps of clothing and quilts.
“We went through all of our archives of all of our photos from the years and chose the ones that had sunflowers, purple, gold and white,” Brown said. “The three colors represent the colors of the suffrage movement. This is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment being ratified.”
The 19th amendment, which gave women the constitutional right to vote, was passed on Aug. 25, 1920. However, women of color were not able to vote until 1965 — Tallgrass still celebrated all women being able to vote.
While some quilts were physically on display, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus, some quilts were displayed differently. Many were only displayed by photos as per COVID-19 protocols.
The demonstration quilt is an interpretive education piece.
“This quilt has been in the rack for 14 years,” she said. “We usually have a long quilt rack out here and have volunteers come out and help demonstrate quilting. We would welcome visitors to come and learn how to quilt as well.”
Before the pandemic, visitors all over the nation and world had helped stitch the quilt before. However, Brown shared that they have not been asking for volunteers due to the ongoing novel coronavirus but hopes to have volunteers next year.
“I just encourage people to properly practice social distance, but come out and visit the park. People can go hiking and our buildings are open,” she said. “We’ll just get through this, that’s the Kansas way. We’re all in it together. I just encourage people to come out and view our website and Facebook page.”
Brown shared that Tallgrass has been thinking about continuing with the candlelit tour on the second Saturday in October.
“If we do it, it’ll be an all outside type of environment,” Brown said. “We haven’t decided 100% yet, but we’re thinking of continuing on with that event. We haven’t had much opportunity to do events this year because of COVID, we’ve had to cancel just about everything.”
She plans to have more information about the candlelit tour posted on their website at https://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm and the Facebook page @NPS.TallgrassPrairie around mid-October.