Kyra Hicks is our guest Know-It-All for

Episode 10 – Masterpiece Quilts?

Premiere airing

December 8, 2021 @ 5:30 pm ET



In this episode…

We are thrilled to welcome special guest Know-It-All Kyra Hicks!

Lynne looks at 19th-century embroidered wool quilts and considers what
makes the Paul family quilt from South Solon, Maine, a masterpiece of
American folk art.

Debby discusses a floral applique quilt likely made in Baltimore in the 1850s that achieves a sculptural effect with the high stuffing of all its motifs. The bold composition & overfilled spaces give it an almost abstract look. It may be one of a small number of lavish quilts that descended in Baltimore Jewish families.

Alden analyzes Mary Lloyd Key’s pieced quilt in the DAR collection. Mary was the wife of Francis Scott Key (of Star Spangled Banner fame).

Special guest Know-It-All Kyra Hicks talks about the two known surviving Harriet Powers quilts: the Bible Quilt and the Pictorial Quilt. Specifically, she fills in the life of the Pictorial Quilt from the time it was owned by Rev. Charles Hall through to its current residence at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (and on view in Fabric of a Nation through January 17, 2022).

Julie wonders about the very concept of “masterpiece” in looking at two quilts, only one of which required advanced needlework skill.

ALL the Know-It-Alls weigh in on these topics for another lively and informative conversation.

Previous episodes are also available!

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How The Six Know-It-Alls Got Started

After six months of COVID-19 pandemic isolation, Barbara Brackman decided she needed some company. She invited five quilt-y friends to join her for Zoom cocktail parties every other Monday evening in order to discuss the state of the country and maybe some quilts, too.

So convivial were the Zooms that they decided to gather virtually every week instead of every two weeks. Quilts soon became the focus of these discussions (of course!). Questions were raised, pondered, discussed, debated, and occasionally settled about particular examples that were brought to the party.

Julie Silber then declared that surely the public would be fascinated by their discussions, and so The Six Know-It-Alls (a tongue-firmly-in-cheek name) was born.

It quickly became apparent that technical help was required, so Tara Miller of The Quilt District came on board. After three freebie sessions, the Six Know-It-Alls—all professional quilt historians with a combined experience of a quarter of a millennium—began to charge for the programs.

We’re so happy you could join us!

Except for Barbara Brackman, who has declared herself to be “retired,” all of the Six Know-It-Alls (and Tara, too) are available independently for lectures (in-person or via Zoom) and also collection consulting.

Don’t worry if you miss an episode! You can still get lifetime access!

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Who Are the Six Know-It-Alls?

Alden O’Brien is the costume and textile curator at the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C., specializing in late 18th– and early 19th-century clothing and quilts. Her exhibitions include “Eye on Elegance: Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia” and “A Piece of her Mind: Technology and Culture in American Quilts” (both available online through She is the author of Historic Quilts of the DAR  (2011), as well as the exhibition catalogs for Eye on Elegance (2014) and her most recent clothing exhibition, ‘An Agreeable Tyrant’: Fashion After the Revolution (2016).
Contact Alden at:

Barbara Brackman is an independent scholar and author whose focus is quilts and women’s history. She has curated numerous quilt exhibitions, including Patchwork Souvenirs (1993) with Merikay Waldvogel, and written many books including the seminal Clues in the Calico (1989). She writes two blogs: Material Culture and Civil War Quilts. She was one of the researchers and writers for the Kansas Quilt Project and is a founding member of the American Quilt Study Group, through which she has published numerous essays in the organization’s journal Uncoverings. Her most recent book is the third edition of Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (2020). She lives in Kansas, in between the rest of the Know-It-Alls.
Contact Barbara at:

Debby Cooney is a quilt historian and collector with a special interest in quilts made within a 200-mile radius of Washington, DC:  Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, and northern Virginia.  She participated in several county-specific quilt-documentation projects conducted in Pennsylvania, and is an editor of A Maryland Album, the book from that state’s documentation project. She is co-author (with Ronda McAllen) of the 2017 Uncoverings paper “Baltimore Album Quilts: New Research.”
Contact Debby at:

Julie Silber is a well-known lecturer, author and curator with more than forty years’ experience collecting, selling, and studying antique quilts. She is the curator of the former Esprit Quilt Collection in San Francisco. Julie is the associate producer of the film Hearts and Hands, and co-author of the 1987 book of the same name. She was the curator of several major quilt exhibitions, including “American Quilts: A Handmade Legacy” at the Oakland Museum and “Amish: The Art of the Quilt” at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young). Julie’s business, Julie Silber Quilts, offers quilt-related services including appraising, consulting and brokerage to individuals, institutions, and corporations.
Contact Julie at:

Lynne Zacek Bassett is an independent scholar specializing in historic costume and textiles, particularly of New England. Among her many projects are award-winning exhibitions and catalogues, including Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War (co-authored with Madelyn Shaw, 2012). Ms. Bassett was also primary author and editor of Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth (2009). She was the editor of the American Quilt Study Group’s annual journal, Uncoverings, from 2012 to 2018. Her most recent quilt exhibition, “Pieces of American History:  Connecticut Quilts” is now available for viewing online at the Connecticut Historical Society website.
Contact Lynne at:

Merikay Waldvogel is a quilt historian and author from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her quilt research spans a broad swath of quilt history, from 19th-century Southern quilts and patterns through 20th-century quilts and quiltmakers. Books for which she was author or co-author include:  Quilts of Tennessee (1986), Soft Covers for Hard Times (1990), Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (1993), and Southern Quilts: Surviving Relics of the Civil War (1998).
Contact Merikay at:


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