QUILT HISTORY STORIES
Saturday May 2, 1931
Susan Wildemuth, Atkinson, IL
On April 5, 1931 People’s Furniture Store of Decatur, Illinois announced their first annual quilt contest in the DECATUR HERALD. Their goals were to foster “a greater appreciation of the fine workmanship that goes into making a quilt” and bring business into their Depression Era store.
Their “Come In” ad for this event reads: “Maybe your quilt is of rare workmanship, or maybe its age or history is unusual…whatever its qualifications might happen to be, don’t fail to enter it in this contest.”
The notice for the contest stated that “all quilts must be entered at our store on or before Saturday, April 18, 1931. Prizes will be awarded to eleven winners on Saturday, May 2, 1931 at 8 p.m. Quilts will be displayed for three weeks.
People’s Furniture Store wanted their customers to know that “even though you do not enter a quilt, you will want to see this great showing.” There is no information stating what kind of crowds the store experienced during this event, but according to the newspaper account, when the contest ended, more than 500 quilts had been entered. Mrs. A.W. Wagner’s quilt, “an appliqué design combined with intricate quilting,” won the day.
- Simply bring any quilt you care to enter in this contest to our store. Each quilt entered will be given a ticket bearing a number and the owner of the quilt will be given a duplicate ticket with a corresponding number. Positively no names will appear on quilts entered – this prevents judges from being influenced in awarding prizes.
- All quilts entered must be brought to our store on or before Saturday, April 18th. The People’s Furniture Company will exercise extreme caution to protect each entry.
- No employee of the People’s Furniture Company or the immediate members of their family are eligible to enter the contest.
- All quilts will be on display for three weeks from the last day of entry in it. The eleven prize winning quilts will be kept on display for one week after prizes are awarded.
- Judging will be done by one or more disinterested and competent judges. Awards to be made on point system.
- Prize winners will be announced and cash awards made at this store on Saturday, May 2 at 8 p.m. Any prize winner unable to attend at that time my obtain prize by calling at the store at a later date.
- All quilts, except prize winners, returned to owners after contest.
First Place $20.00
Second Place $10.00
Third Place $ 5.00
Fourth Place $ 5.00
Fifth Place $ 2.50
Sixth Place $ 2.50
Seventh Place $ 1.00
Eighth Place $ 1.00
Ninth Place $ 1.00
Tenth Place $ 1.00
Eleventh Place $ 1.00
Miss Mary Omen Home Advisor
Miss Elizabeth Campbell James Millikin University Faculty
Miss Helen F. Murphy Home Economics Teacher – Decatur High School
First Place Mrs. A.W. Wagner
717 West Prairie Street
Second Place Mrs. Arthur Lindy
450 South 22nd Street
Third Place Mrs. Frank Shields
138 South 18th Street
Fourth Place Mrs. C.H. Bristow
1701 Jefferson Street
Fifth Place Mrs. Laura E. Kern
1495 Decatur Street
Sixth Place Mrs. Bruce Waller
Seventh Place Mrs. J.M. Chapman
851 North Edward Street
Eighth Place Mrs. Ella Clements
438 East Eldorado
Ninth Place Mrs. James Dugan
1409 E. William Street
Tenth Place Mrs. Belle Borton
Eleventh Place Mrs. Alva C. Davis
1105 West King Street
“Great Quilt Contest.” DECATUR HERALD 5 April 1931.
“Ancient Quilts on Exhibit in Store Contest.” DECATUR HERALD 12 April 1931.
“Mrs. Wagner Wins on Exhibit of Quilt.” DECATUR HERALD 3 May 1931.
If anyone has any information about quilts entered in this contest, paper items from this contest, or photos of quilts, participants, People’s Furniture Store, and/or judges associated with this contest, the author would love to add additional information to this brief article.
**If anyone would like to take this on as a research project and tell the “entire” story I would be glad to forward copies of what information I have.