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12 March 2008

Quilts and the Underground Railroad featured at Lebanon Campus
Carlisle quilter to join Women’s History Month event on March 24

A Quilt Exposition in honor of Women’s History Month will be held from 1-5 p.m. Monday, March 24, in the multi-purpose room of the Lebanon Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.

The public is invited to attend the free event that explores the tradition of quilts and the roles filled by these colorful, warm and comforting blankets in history as well as today.

Quilter Susan Kline of Carlisle will talk about her Underground Railroad quilt at 2 p.m., and during the entire exposition, visitors will see a display of several of the 300 quilts made this year by members of the Lebanon Quilters Guild for children in Lebanon County’s Domestic Intervention program.

“We have been making these quilts for about 10 years,” says guild member Claudia Lawrence. Guild members pay for their own materials to make the sturdy, machine-quilted blankets that are given to children from newborn to 17 years old. A variety of patterns and colors are used in the blankets, which range from 40-by-40 inches to 40-by-60 inches, Lawrence says.

When a mother and her children turn to Domestic Intervention of Lebanon County Inc., they often leave their homes with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing, Lawrence adds. “These quilts are given to the children upon their arrival at a domestic violence shelter and are theirs to keep.”

Kline, the great-granddaughter of a Civil War-era blacksmith, became interested in Underground Railroad quilts about four years ago, starting her own quilt using Eleanor Burns’ “Underground Railroad Sampler” book as a reference. After she and her family moved from Ohio to Carlisle in 2006, Kline began researching the Underground Railroad in central Pennsylvania.

“As a quilter, it was fascinating to think that quilt blocks could possibly be a clue to messages relating to the Underground Railroad,” Kline says. “This has been a very controversial subject but I talk about how (these quilts) could have been used to help runaway salves on their journey North and to freedom.”

After putting her quilting project on hold during her family’s move, Kline finished it last year and will bring her hand-stitched blanket to the exposition held on the campus at 735 Cumberland St. in downtown Lebanon.

For more information about DVI, call (717) 273-7190 or go to the Website by clicking on the URL below.

The Lebanon Quilters Guild meets the first Monday of each month at Cornwall Manor. For more information, call Lawrence at (717) 274-3169.

For more information about the Quilt Exposition, call Lorena Brown, Office of Multicultural Affairs at (717) 270-6300 or send an e-mail to her at the address below.

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