The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857

Stories of the Relief Society Women and their Quilt

Quilts are a lot like people. They are not overnight undertakings. They seldom turn out the way they were intended. Colors change when you run short of fabric. Edges misalign where you least expect it.

When Carol Nielson and her husband inherited an album quilt—half a quilt, to be precise—she had no idea of the journey on which the fragile folds of appliqués and painstaking stitches would call her. Created in 1857 by the women of the Salt Lake City LDS 14th Ward, the quilt was raffled off to raise money for the poor, the Perpetual Immigrating Fund, and for various Mormon charitable enterprises. Each block was designed and signed by one of the women, many of whom were wives of leading church authorities.

Nielson’s desire to find the quilt’s other half, and to find out more about the women whose legacy she had—both literally and figuratively—inherited, led her back in time through countless lives of hardship, joy, and spiritual conviction in the face of adversity.

Filled with detailed photographs of the quilt and images of those who stitched the blocks, this book is a stirring read, a rich and beautiful testimony to women whose hands shaped not only thread and cloth, but also a state, forging a community with their pioneer spirit.

Winner of the Utah Book Award in Nonfiction. 

Carol Holindrake Nielson has a bachelor's degree in English education from Utah State University. She has been a teacher, tutor, and an historical interpreter at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Praise and Reviews:

"Carol Nielson has not only brought together two halves of a quilt, she has restored a forgotten community of women. Her patient research has transformed a family relic into a communal treasure."—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, author of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812

"A vital contribution to Utah’s rich history adding to an unfortunately under-appreciated and under-documented part of our history—frontier women."—William Slaughter, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Historical Department

"A compelling and thorough study of a quilt, the pioneer women who stitched it, and ultimately, the Mormon experience that defined them."—Kae Covington, author of Gathered in Time: Utah Quilts and Their Makers, Settlement to 1950

"A fine contribution to quild scholarship and a guide to using quilts to understand the history of women in Mormon culture and in American society."—Kathryn L. MacKay, Weber State University