The Berks History Center’s textile collection includes a signature quilt, which was presented to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Reading in 1885. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, such quilts are of interest to scholars because they contain signatures, in embroidery or ink, of a particular community’s members. Signature quilts became popular in the 1800s and were typically used in fundraisers – featuring the names of those who contributed – or as gifts of friendship and appreciation to an individual. The St. Luke’s signature quilt contains dozens of signatures and serves as a veritable membership roster of the congregation at that time.
Local traditions like the signature quilt are embodied in many of our artifacts. They help us understand the past and preserve the identities of Berks County’s diverse communities over time. Do you have a long-standing family or community tradition? How do you preserve your family’s history?