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September 18, 2018

Egg Money Quilt Project ‘Hatched’ By Oswego County 4-H


Submitted Article

MEXICO, NY – An Egg Money quilting project, offered through the Oswego County 4-H program, was implemented recently as an after-school collaborative with the Pulaski Academy Junior/Senior High School History Club.

A group of students teamed up with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County 4-H Program to learn more about their community’s history through learning about the quilts of the Great Depression.

An Egg Money quilting project offered through the Oswego County 4-H program recently collaborated with the Pulaski Academy Junior/Senior High School History Club as an after-school initiative. A group of students developed a quilt, while also learning about their community’s history. From left are: Sarah Quick, Kyle Eldridge, Terra Gravelle, and Kim Quick.These 7th -12th graders learned about the 1930s Depression Era, and its economic impact on Oswego County, through the creation of an egg money quilt.

Egg money quilts came to be known when the women of the household would sell their chicken eggs to add to the family income.

They would use the chicken feed sacks or printed seed cotton bags for the fabric needed to sew a quilt.

During the Great American Depression, families across America, including Oswego County were challenged to make financial ends meet.

There was no extra money in the household budgets to splurge on extravagant things like fabric.

Women of the household who desired to continue their quilting endeavors had to seek alternative sources to get the required materials.

During this same time period the chicken feed producers were looking for the cheapest material available to package their grain and seed in.

This fabric turned out to be functional for clothing, kitchen curtains, slipcovers, children’s clothing and quilts.

The feed sack fabric just happened to come in prints such as calico, stripes and florals.

For the next 40 years, printed cotton bags, or feed sacks, were staples for home sewing.

According to the Mexico Historical Society, ladies in the Mexico-area would get together and swap these precious fabrics.

Mary Matteson, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County program educator, CCE volunteers, and Mexico Historical Society volunteers began working in February with the history club on this project.

The project’s first class focused on the history of the local egg growers and their importance to the community.

Matteson and the CCE volunteers worked with the youth throughout the winter and early spring to help them cut out and assemble an egg money quilt replica.

The students also learned the meaning behind each block pattern such as Road to California, which depicted a better life is waiting in California, or Old Maid’s Puzzle, which supported Sadie Hawkins Day.

The Pulaski Academy Central School History Club will bring its finished quilt to a state competition in May.

Afterward, they exhibit their finished quilt at the Oswego County Fair in the Youth Building July 2-6.

Ultimately, the quilt will be the property of the Pulaski High School, and used in future Great Depression lessons.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is a key outreach system of Cornell University with a strong public mission and an extensive local presence that is responsive to needs in New York communities.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension educational system enables people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work.

This program is made possible from funds form the New York State Council on the Arts decentralization grant program administered regionally by Cultural Resources Council of Syracuse, Onondaga and Oswego counties.

If you would like to learn more about the Oswego County 4-H program, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County at (315) 963-7286, or visit http://counties.Cornell Cooperative Extension.cornell.edu/oswego

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