We’ve assembled a stand-out crowd of lecturers for this summer and fall! Textile experts Diane Fagan Affleck, formerly of the American Textile History Museum, Lynne Bassett, author of Northern Comfort: New England’s Early Quilts 1780-1850 and co-author of Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator at the MFA’s David and Roberta Logie Department of Textile and Fashion Arts, and our own Gerald W. R. Ward, Portsmouth Historical Society’s curator.

An Evening with Contemporary Quilters

Thursday, October 29, 7:30 pm, via zoom

FREE for member/donors
$15 for non-members

Upstairs in the Academy building at Portsmouth Historical Society is the contemporary portion of our “Threads” exhibition. Several of the quilters whose work is on display, from the Seacoast and beyond, will join us for a few presentations about quilts and the quilting community. Please join us for what should be a very interesting evening!

“Color & Comfort: Quilts in Context”

September 24, 7:30 pm, via Zoom

Free for member/donors
$15 for non-members

Quilts and coverlets, in addition to being examples of outstanding needlework and beautiful works of art, have symbolic value and functional purposes.  They hold many meanings for people and have played a central functional role in the domestic interior for centuries. In his talk, Ward will examine some of the symbolic meanings of quilts, and also look at them in the context of the bed chamber, examining them as one element in a constellation of related objects and examining changing patterns and rhythms of life over and under the covers.

Family Treasures:  175 Years of Collecting Art and Furniture at the New England Historic Genealogical Society is Ward’s most recent publication.

Gerald W.R. Ward is the consulting curator of the Portsmouth Historical Society, where he serves in addition as the editor of the Portsmouth Marine Society Press. He is also the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he teaches early American art and is also serving his fourth term as a New Hampshire State Representative, representing Rockingham District 28 (Portsmouth Ward 4).  Gerry has been married since 1972 to Barbara McLean Ward, director-curator of the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden in Portsmouth and a noted scholar of American silver and material culture.  The Wards have lived in Portsmouth since 1988.

“Coverlets and Counterpanes: Bedcovers for a New Nation”

August 27, 7:30 pm, via Zoom

Free for member/donors
$15 for non-members

Jennifer Swope will explore white coverlets and counterpanes of the late 18th and early 19th century and their special status in the early decades of the nation. She will discuss two examples in the Portsmouth Historical Society’s collection, each with ties to Portsmouth and two of the port city’s most significant guests—President George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Swope will conclude with coverlets woven by Hannah Wilson of Stafford County in the second quarter of the 19th century, whose exceptional work represents a regional response to the global cotton trade.

Jennifer Swope is Assistant Curator in the David and Roberta Logie Department of Textiles and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A recipient of a Lois F. McNeil Fellowship, she attended the Winterthur Program in American Culture, receiving a Master’s Degree in American Material Culture from the University of Delaware. Co-author and curator of Quilts and Color, the Pilgrim/Roy Collection, a catalog and exhibition that opened at the MFA in 2014, her most recent work has been co-curating the upcoming catalog and exhibition Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories that will open at the MFA in 2021.

“Early New England Quilts & the Labor of Quilting”

July 23, 2020 at 7:30 pm, via Zoom

Free for Member/Donors
$15 for non-members

Join expert Lynne Zacek Bassett for a look at the long tradition of quilt-making in New England.

The styles of quilts preferred in New England changed from whole-cloth wool and silk to pieced cotton with the advent of the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 19th century. This lecture examines the materials and techniques of these early quilts, and also the practices of early quilters—the seasonality of their work and the tradition of cooperative quilting.

Lynne Zacek Bassett is an independent scholar specializing in historic costume and textiles. Among her projects are award-winning exhibitions and catalogues, including Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War (co-authored with Madelyn Shaw and published in 2012 by the American Textile History Museum), which won a bronze medal in history from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Ms. Bassett was also primary author and editor of Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth, published by the University Press of New England in 2009. In 2019, she was guest curator of the exhibition, “Pieces of American History: Connecticut Quilts” at the Connecticut Historical Society, which will soon be available for viewing online.

Her experience in the field of historic costume and textiles has been recognized by the American Antiquarian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, Historic New England, and the International Quilt Study Center, which have all elected her to membership in their honorary or advisory societies.

“Textiles from Near and Far”

June 25, 2020 at 7:30 pm, via Zoom

Diane Fagan Affleck, formerly of the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, will present “Textiles from Near and Far,” a colorful tour through textiles found in the Portsmouth Historical Society’s quilts, focusing on how they were made and how they came to be here. Both textile novices and nerds are invited to attend, via Zoom, for this fascinating peek into how textiles are woven into the culture and history of our region.

Diane Fagan Affleck is a retired museum professional who worked as a registrar, researcher, curator, and director of exhibitions. She held positions at the DAR Museum, Washington, DC; the American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA; and she was a fellow at the Warner House in Portsmouth. Her research interests focused on nineteenth-century printed textiles and American handweaving. She is the author of Just New from the Mills: Printed Cotton in America, and the co-author of Celebration and Remembrance: Commemorative Textiles in America, 1790-1990 with Paul Hudon, and Textiles for Victorian and Edwardian Clothing, 1880-1920 with Karen J. Herbaugh. Fagan Affleck is a graduate of St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY) and holds an MA from The George Washington University (Washington, DC).