QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Cargo Collections

Lureca Outland
Collection: IQSCM

Helen and Robert Cargo collected Southern folk arts for about forty years, including hundreds of Alabama quilts. In the 1980s and '90s Robert operated the Robert Cargo Gallery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Robert was a professor of romance languages and classics at the University of Alabama. Helen McCain Cargo who taught French was a quilter herself. Helen died in 2008 at 75; Robert in 2012 at 79 years of age.

Cyatus Fowler, Alabama
Collection: Birmingham Museum of Art 

When Robert retired daughter Caroline Cargo moved the gallery to Paoli, Pennsylvania. The Cargos specialized in Alabama quilts and particularly in those made by African-American Alabamians. Most of the collection was made in the last years of the 20th century.

Bettie Finch
Collection: IQSCM

The bulk of their quilt collection went to two institutions: The International Quilt Study Center and Museum and the Birmingham Museum of Art. IQSCM has over 150, donated in the year 2000.

 Mary Ann Rouse Thomas
Blount County Alabama, Late 19th century.
Collection: Birmingham Museum of Art 
Mary Ann was Robert's Great-Grandmother.
Inheriting her quilts inspired him to add to his collection. 

The Birmingham Museum has 300, part of their collection of 700 folk art objects from the Cargos.
Quilts from the Cargo collection can also be found in other museums.

Quilt from the Cargo collection in the 
American Museum of Folk Art

Read more about IQSCM's Robert and Helen Cargo African American Quilt Collection:
http://www.quiltstudy.org/collections/major.html/title/the-robert-and-helen-cargo-collection-of-african-american-quilts

Edgie Steventon
Collection: IQSCM

Roberta Jemison
Collection: IQSCM

The legacy of Robert, Helen and Caroline Cargo will remain a significant contribution to the study of American quilts.

See the IQSCM collection by clicking here and scrolling down to choose IQSC Collection and select Robert and Helen Cargo Collection.

Robert's mother Mildred Thomas Cargo pieced
the top; Robert quilted it. 
Collection: Birmingham Museum of Art 

The quilts in the Birmingham Museum collection are not so accessible online. 
Click here to see their quilts. 
Most haven't yet been photographed and this webpage is rather difficult to navigate as clicking on a photo puts you back at square one. However, it's worth the trouble. There are some great quilts in the files.

Mrs. Dove Brown or her mother
Collection: Birmingham Museum of Art 


Gail Andrews did a catalog in 1982. Alabama Quilts: Black Belt to Hill County.Alabama Quilts From the Helen and Robert Cargo Collection

1 comment:

Lori said...

So fascinating! I've never heard of this collection. Great quilts!