A Patriotic Shawl for Mrs. Andrew

By Elaine Grublin

On Wednesday, 24 April 1861. the following story ran in the third column of page two of the Boston Evening Transcript  (Vol. XXXII, no. 9507):

“APPROPRIATE PRESENTATION TO MRS. GOV. ANDREW. A large and elegantly wrought shawl, patriotic in every feature, was this morning presented to Mrs. Gov. Andrew, by Messrs. R. H. Stearns & Co., Summer street. It is of the finest worsted, in red, blue and white stripes, with thirty-four stars and the Union shield of the same material, so arranged as to give the whole a symmetrical appearance and an exceedingly fine effect. It was designed and executed by a lady in Newton, and for its novelty and appropriateness to the times is well worthy of examination. It may be seen for a few days in Messrs. R. H. Stearns & Co.’s window, 15 Summer street.” (View the original page online through Google News.)

In May 1922, Edith and Henry Hersey Andrew, the children of Gov. & Mrs. Andrew, gave the shawl described in the Transcript to the MHS and it has been part of our collections since that time.  Currently Anne Bentley, our art curator, is preparing the shawl to be loaned to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The shawl, along with other MHS artifacts, will be displayed as part of the ATHM’s upcoming exhibition Homefront & Battlefield: The Civil War through Quilts and Context, which is scheduled to open in spring/summer 2012.  Anne’s recent work with the shawl has given many MHS staff members a chance to view the item up close.  It is an interesting and intricate piece, as you can see in the detail photograph below. 


You can contact the library staff if you are interested in making an appointment to view the item at the MHS.  Naturally it will not be available for viewing here during the time it is out on loan, but can otherwise be made available to researchers on an appointment basis.

Photography by Anne Bentley, Curator of Art