Harriet Powers and the Bible Quilt

On display at the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, is a quilt known as the Bible Quilt. It was made by Harriet Powers, an African-American farm woman from Clarke County, Georgia, and first exhibited at the Athens Cotton Fair in 1886. An artistically created quilt, it has been admired over the decades of its history. Harriet Powers, born a slave and thought by many to be an illiterate woman, was, in fact, quite literate. In a discovered letter she’d written, she tells of learning to read “with the help of the family’s children.” She continued to read and study on her own, resulting in the exquisite quilt blocks she created depicting 15 major scenes from the Bible taken from her own study of it.

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