Inscribed in thirty-nine squares with the names of men and women from Nashua and Brookline, New Hampshire, this quilt is a remarkable record of two New England textile mill towns. Only twelve miles apart, Nashua and Brookline comprised two of New Hampshire's important mill towns of the Merrimack River Valley, along with Manchester. Among the twenty-two distinct surnames on the quilt, members of the Farnsworth Family appear six times. With one square inscribed "George E. Rookwood, Brookline, To My Friend Olive," the quilt was most likely made for Olive Farnsworth, a resident of Brookline whose name appears on another square with the date July 19th 1849.
Genealogical and census research has revealed that several of the women whose names appear on this quilt were mill workers residing in Nashua boarding houses, and several others were former mill employees whose circumstances did not require they work. Accordingly, this quilt not only represents an important by-product of New England's emerging textile industry, but also a rare socio-economic record both of the confluence of middle and working-class lives in a small mill town, as well as important insight into the history of women in the work place. The possible implications of the latter group of names on this quilt are several. Among these is that prior to immigrant labor in New England's textile mills, the work force historically associated with that industry, it may have been acceptable for women of more secure economic and social means interested in broadening their experiences beyond the home to work in the mills as well.
The names inscribed on this quilt are: Badger (Leslie); Betterley (Allvina, Mr.-, Sarah, Lucy, Mary); Bills (Martha); Campbell (Mary Anne, Jane); Farnsworth (Martha, Mrs. Samuel, Mary, Luther, Olive, Mary Ann); Gilman (Franklin, Mary); Goodwin (Joseph, Sarah, C.H., R.A.); Griffin (R.Y.); Heburt (Eunice, August); Hobart (Martha); Holden (Irene); Lancy (?); Peabody (Augusta); Prageer (Sally); Rockwood (Cynthia, George); Shattuck (Clorinda, Cecelia); Spaulding (Susan); Smith (Lucy); Stearns (Allilia); Tucker (Miss Paulina, Mrs. Paulina); Wallace (Betsy); Wright (M. Francis, Augusta).