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Stitched from the Soul

Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South

By Gladys-Marie Fry

With a new preface by the author

Stitched from the Soul

112 pp., 8.5 x 11, 73 color / 50 b&w illus., notes, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4995-8
    Published: September 2002

Chapel Hill Books

Buy this Book

This richly illustrated book offers a glimpse into the lives and creativity of African American quilters during the era of slavery. Originally published in 1989, Stitched from the Soul was the first book to examine the history of quilting in the enslaved community and to place slave-made quilts into historical and cultural context. It remains a beautiful and moving tribute to an African American tradition.

Undertaking a national search to locate slave-crafted textiles, Gladys-Marie Fry uncovered a treasure trove of pieces. The 123 color and black and white photographs featured here highlight many of the finest and most interesting examples of the quilts, woven coverlets, counterpanes, rag rugs, and crocheted artifacts attributed to slave women and men. In a new preface, Fry reflects on the inspiration behind her original research--the desire to learn more about her enslaved great-great-grandmother, a skilled seamstress--and on the deep and often emotional chords the book has struck among readers bonded by an interest in African American artistry.

About the Author

Gladys-Marie Fry is Professor Emerita of Folklore and English at the University of Maryland at College Park. She has also curated more than a dozen exhibitions at institutions such as the American Folk Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery, Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Her books and exhibition catalogs include Night Riders in Black Folk History, Man Made: African American Men and Quilting Traditions, and Black Folk Art in Cleveland.
For more information about Gladys-Marie Fry, visit the Author Page.


"Includes many illustrations of surviving slave-made quilts, some utilitarian and others wonderful examples of the seamstress's art."--Washington Post Book World

"Stitched from the Soul is an interesting study showing how African culture influenced American quilting as well as commenting on the life of the slave."--Library Journal

"Offers an unusual glimpse into the creativity of slaves."--Publishers Weekly

"A richly illustrated collection of needlework by African-American slave women."--Chicago Sun-Times