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Treasures from a Trunk: California Pioneers’ Quilts and Textiles

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The quilts in this exhibit are reminders of an epic chapter in California history.  In one of the greatest migrations of modern times, a quarter million Americans came West between 1840 and 1870. Many were drawn by the limitless possibilities of California – gold, farmland, business opportunities, and religious and cultural freedom. Leaving family and friends, and braving a perilous trek across the continent, they brought with them as many items from home as they could. Much of what women packed was their own handiwork: treasured quilts, best dresses, baby gowns, and other needlecraft. The textiles shown in this exhibit are the artistic achievements of these women; some were hauled cross-country, others completed after arrival. Passed down through generations, they ultimately were donated to California State Parks to mark a momentous era in California history.