Sarah Clapp Quilt

 

Historic Wauwatosa
Article - May 2011

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The Sarah Clapp quilt is a Victorian crazy quilt that the historical society is working to preserve and research. The quilt, which is silk and velvet, with hand embroidery and some painted designs, was made for Sarah Boardman Clapp for her life in China.

Sarah, the daughter of the Rev. Luther and Harriet Clapp, went to China as a missionary in 1879, at age 24. Rev. Luther Clapp was the prominent pastor of the First Congregational Church in Wauwatosa; he and Harriett arrived in Wauwatosa from Massachusets in 1845. Sarah was born in 1855, the fifth of the six Clapp children.

In China in 1880, Sarah married another missonary, Rev. Chauncey Goodrich. Sarah founded a school which was named in her honor, the "Goodrich School for Girls," in Tungchou, China. Except for visits home, Sarah remained in China until her death in 1923.

The Sarah Clapp crazy quilt is composed of 36 ten-inch blocks, each displaying different levels of urgency for preservation. Problems include shattering silks, broken warp threads, and loosening and missing embroidery stitches. Thanks to two generous grants from the Prairieville Pioneer Questers and the International Questers, we have begun procedures to help maintain and preserve the quilt. The restoration project entails methods to both strengthen the fragile quilt for handling and display and to improve the quilt's overall appearance by the containment of shattering silk with crepoline, and the careful stabilization and repairing of warp strands and weak fabric with hand stitching/stabilization techniques.

The quilt was given to the Wauwatosa Historical Society in 1985 by Sarah's son Luther Carrington Goodrich, then Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies at Columbia University. The quilt is stored in the collections area of the Wauwatosa Historical Society.

Please contact us if you are willing to be trained in the preservation, hand stitching and stabilization techniques being used to work on the quilt.


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