What’s in a name? What’s in a phrase?
Research evolves. When little has been written of a topic, and present day researchers are dependent on the clues that are found in disparate primary sources and buried in archives across a vast country, as well as being stored in another continent, it is challenging to see the ‘big picture’. I have found this to be true in my research of quilts made by Canadian women during the Second World War for the people of Britain and Europe.
From my early research, it appeared that these quilts ‘flowed through’ the Canadian Red Cross. And of course, most of the quilts found in Britain today that are being collected are recognizable by the woven cloth label, ‘Gift of the Canadian Red Cross Society’ or a regional version of that label. But as I access more primary sources, I am finding evidence that there were myriads of other Canadian individuals and organizations that were shipping packages both to individual families and to Britain’s Women’s Voluntary Service for distribution.
I will be sharing more of my research as I investigate new information, but for now I am no longer referring to these textile artifacts that I am researching as ‘Canadian Red Cross quilts’. This does not mean, of course, that there are not Canadian Red Cross quilts – I am so grateful to own one myself, made in Kitchener, Ontario. However, I recognize now that this phrase excludes the work and presence and organization of so many other individuals and groups, primarily of women, who voluntarily contributed to this massive effort to send warmth, both physically and emotionally, to the people of Britain and Europe during the Second World War.
So, how shall I refer to them? Any ideas? ‘Canadian Wartime Quilts’. ‘Canadian Charitable Quilts of the Second World War’. ‘Wartime Quilts of Canada’. ‘WW2 Quilts of Canada’. Or Jo Andrew’s title of her Haptic and Hue podcast episode ‘Canada’s Forgotten Quilts’.
I would love to know what you think. Comment on my IG post for April 8, 2022, @suture_and_selvedge
(And of course, Canada is not the only country that contributed quilts and clothing to Britain. Millions of articles were sent from the United States and other countries, but for now my research is focused on the Canadian voluntary donations to Britain.)