Meet Bertha Stenge

Susan Wildemuth, Atkinson, IL

     No quilt site about Illinois Quilt History would be complete without a piece about Bertha Stenge of Chicago, Illinois.  Joyce Gross and Merikay Waldvogel have done extensive research on Mrs. Stenge so I will not do an in-depth article here because you will want to go on a day trip to your local library and check out or interlibrary loan one of myriad Bertha Stenge articles to read more about “Chicago’s Quilting Queen.” 


Here is what you will find here:


Meet Bertha Stenge

Bertha Sheramsky Stenge



February 8, 1891

Alameda, California



Father:  Max Sheramsky (Tailor by Profession)

Mother: Frances



Bernhard Stenge (Attorney by Profession)



(3 Daughters)






June 18, 1957



Chicago, Illinois


Residence (At Passing):

Chicago, Illinois


Stenge Quilts in Private and Public Collections


The Art Institute of Chicago


Victory Quilt                                              1942

Quilt Show                                                1943

Toby Lil                                                    1951

Panel Depicting Two Dancers              Mid 20th Century


These quilts can be viewed online at:




Illinois State Museum

The Star of Constantine                              1936

Iva's Pincushion                                          1936

The Bible Quilt                                           1936-37

Mosaic, Grandmother's Garden                  1940

Four Freedoms                                          1943

Office of Price Administration Quilt             1946

The Quilting Party                                       1948

Tangled Garters, Sunbonnet Sue                 1940-1950

These quilts can be viewed online at:



Chicago Historical Society


Chicago Fair                                                1933


Special Note:  If anyone knows of any other Bertha Stenge quilts in public or private collections would you please share so that I may ad them to the list.


Bertha Stenge Reading List


Artist’s Needle Brings Prizes to Maker of Quilts.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE 21 March 1943.

Barber, Rita Barrow. SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN: QUILTS AND QUILTERS OF ILLINOIS . Paducah, Kentucky: American Quilter’s Society, 1986.

 Benberry, Cuesta. “The Superb Mrs. Stenge.” NIMBLE NEEDLE TREASURES Summer 1971 (V-3, N-2, P 4).

 Bertha Stenge – Obituary – CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE 19 June 1957.

“Bertha Stenge Quilts Found.” QUILTERS’ JOURNAL 26 (undated):15.


“Bertha Stenge, ’The Quilting Queen of Chicago.’” QUILTER’S NEWSLETTER MAGAZINE (October 1971): 4-6.


 “Bertha Stenge Quilts Found.” QUILTERS’ JOURNAL 26 (undated):15.

CENTURY OF QUILTS. Des Moines , Iowa : Meredith Corp., Better Homes and Gardens Creative Collection Publications 2002, 74.

Elbert, E. Duane and Rachel Kamm Elbert.  HISTORY OF THE HEART - QUILT PATHS ACROSS ILLINOIS. Tennessee:  Rutledge Hill Press, 1993.  ISBN: 1-55853-155-6. (Findings of the Illinois Quilt Research Project).

Gross, Joyce R. “Four Twentieth-Century Quiltmakers.” In Uncoverings 1980. San Franscisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1981. Reprinted: Horton, Laurel ed. Quiltmaking in America : Beyond the Myths. Nashville , Tenn:  Rutledge Press. 1994.  (P 164, 171-72, 175.) 

Kiracofe, Roderick. The American Quilt. New York : Clarkson Potter, 1993.  (P 199, 216, 239-40)

Leman, Bonnie. “Two Masters: Kretsinger and Stenge.”  QUILTER’S NEWSLETTER MAGAZINE (January 1981): 16-17.

 “List Features of New Season at Irving Park.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE 20 September  1953.

Moss, Ruth. “Fair Sex Takes the Spotlight at State’s Fair.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE 8 August 1952.

“Needlework Prize Winners.” WOMAN’S DAY. January 1943.

“New Quilt Designs.” LADIES’S HOME JOURNAL, November 1940.

 Orlofsky, Patsy and Myron. QUILTS IN AMERICA. New York : Abbeville Press, 1992. (P 82-83)

Perry, Rosalind, THE QUILTERS HALL OF FAME.  Marion, Indiana: Quilters Hall of Fame, 2004.  (Merikay Waldvogel wrote the Bertha Stenge piece)

Peto, Florence . “Quilts Then and Now.” MCCALL’S NEEDLEWORK AND CRAFTS, 1953.

 “Prize Winning Applique.” WOMAN’S DAY. March 1943.

Waldvogel, Merikay and Barbara Brackman. PATCHWORK SOUVENIRS OF THE 1933 WORLD’S FAIR. Nashville, Tenn: Rutledge Hill Press, 1996.  (Page 89, 90)

Waldvogel, Merikay and Jan Wass.  “A Cut and Stitch Above: Quilts by Bertha Stenge.”THE LIVING MUSEUM/ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM, vol.59 nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 1997), pp.10-13.

 Wise, Margaret Lukes. “Prize Winning Needlework.” WOMAN’S DAY February 1943.

“Woman Who Made the ‘Bible Quilt’” CHICAGO TRIBUNE April 5, 1971 Reprinted: Nimble Needle Treasures. Summer 1971. Submitted by Cuesta Benberry. (V-3 –N-2, P6)

 Special Note:  If anyone knows of any other Bertha Stenge articles would you please share so that I may ad them to the reading list.