Fort Dearborn Quilt Top

Vintage Quilt Kit

Parks-Wildemuth Collection

(Scroll down to Story Three for this Quilt's Story)

By Susan Wildemuth – Atkinson, Illinois


When you think of Illinois and quilting there are three things that immediately come to mind Nancy Cabot, Bertha Stenge, and the 1933 World’s Fair Century of Progress Exposition with the Sears National Quilt Contest.  All the hard work and research has been done by the dynamic quilt history duo of Barbara Brackman and Merikay Waldvogel. 


And… Ladies and Gentlemen, what a fine job they have done in their book Patchwork Souvenirs of the World's Fair




Waldvogel, Merikay and Barbara Brackman. Patchwork Souvenirs of the World's Fair.  Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press. 1993.


Century of Progress

1933 World's Fair

Quilt Ephemera

If you are interested in  Century of Progress Quilt Ephemera click on the following link:

1933 World’s Fair Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition and the

Sears National Quilt Contest Quilt Ephemera  Quilt History Stories



Wait gentle reader, don’t touch that computer key – there’s more…….


Stories of  

1933 Chicago World’s Fair

Quilt and Textile Finds


     Story One

  • Quilt Historian Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. - Thank you Kim for sharing your story with us.




     Story Two

  • Indian Pillow – 1933 World’s Fair Century of Progress - Chicago, Illinois




Article V.S. 80  Design 2590

 Virginia Snow Studios - Elgin, Illinois



Parks-Wildemuth Collection


      Story Three

  • Fort Dearborn Quilt Top - Quilt Kit - 1933 World’s Fair Century of Progress - Chicago, Illinois

Fort Dearborn Quilt Top

Quilt Kit


Parks-Wildemuth Collection

Quilt Name:

Fort Dearborn Quilt

1933 Century of Progress

Quilt Kit




See Photo

Quilt Date:


Quilt Technique:

Machine Pieced, Hand Applique, and Hand Embroidered


Quilt Construction:

This quilt was made from a quilt kit.

 Some of the manufacturer's quilt markings

are still visible on this top.


88” x 96”


This Century of Progress quilt top commemorates the World’s Fair Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois in 1933 and was a quilt kit that was “possibly” sold at the exposition. Dated 1833-1933, this quilt features Fort Dearborn with a flag flying, an eagle and shield above the fort, the Chicago skyline, Transportation Hall, covered wagon representing transportation in 1833, while an airplane with a star insignia represents advances to 1933, sunbursts representing optimism for the future on both sides, and triple border of the exposition’s primary colors (bright blue, yellow, and orange). The bright colors were chosen by the event planners to counter the mood of the Great Depression and to symbolize the bright future ahead.

Sears, Roebuck, and Company, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois sponsored a quilt competition during the exhibition.  It is possible that this quilt top was made from a kit based on an interesting entry and sold at the Chicago Exhibition.  As of February 2009, this is the fifth quilt/quilt top made with this pattern that has been found and documented. There is a similar completed quilt in the American Folk Art Museum (see Glorious American Quilts  p. 107),  another in the Western Heritage Museum (formerly the Gene Autry Museum) in Riverside, California, this one, and two other ones are in private collections. 

The manufacturer of this quilt kit remains a mystery. A new piece of evidence was found in-between a seam on the back side of this quilt top; orange writing which reads No. 3320 Century of Progress Quilt.  There is more writing after that, but it is barely visible.  This quilt kit could be a Wurzburg, Buettner, Virginia Snow Studios (Special Note: VSS is my specialty and I have never seen this pattern), or an unknown manufacturer.  If you recognize this quilt kit and/or its manufacturer please contact Susan Wildemuth quiltingbee73@yahoo.com.

This quilt top came directly from the Collection of Sandra Mitchell Ohio Quilt Dealer and Folk Art Collector who passed away in 2000. Susan Wildemuth purchased it from Barbara Lemme of Sign of the Whale Antiques, Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Additional information about this quilt kit furnished by:

Barbara Lemme, Sign of the Whale Antiques, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Merikay Waldvogel


    Story Four

Janette Dwyer Century of Progress Quilt Find


1933 Century of Progress Quilt

Dwyer Collection


If you'd like to read the story of this quilt, click on the Quilt History Stories link below.

Sale of the Century Quilt History Stories


    Story Five

1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair Coverlet



Dwyer Collection


This Century of Progress coverlet came to Janette Dwyer of Atkinson, Illinois from the niece of the original owners.  It belonged to the seller’s Aunt and Uncle who were

married in 1933.  It was a “fixed” or arranged marriage between the two families.  Being young and not really knowing each other, they were scared to go on their honeymoon so they decided they would go to Chicago to the World’s Fair to “break the ice.” 



While at the fair, the young couple got to know each other and bought this coverlet as a reminder of the wonderful time they had in Chicago.  They were married 62 years.  This coverlet was put in the estate sale, but no one bought it so their niece took it home and put it away in her cedar closet until it became a part of Janette Dwyer’s Century of Progress textile collection.

    Story Six

Irene Schramm's Contest Quilt

1933 Century of Progress Quilt

State Flower Quilt

Ruby Short McKim Design

Irene Schramm Quiltmaker

Janette Dwyer Owner

Dywer Collection

If you'd like to read the story of this quilt, click on the Quilt History Stories link below.

Irene Schramm's Contest Quilt  Quilt History Stories


If you have a quilt, commemorative textile, or quilt/textile story associated with the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair please share with us – we want to hear from you. 

Contact: quiltingbee73@yahoo.com