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Granny's Patriotic Quilt

Granny's Patriotic Quilt
Birdella Parcher Grandstaff Miller
81” x 80”
MSUM 20014:44.1
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

In this quilt, known by the maker’s family as Granny’s Patriotic Quilt, Birdella Parcher Grandstaff Miller (1876-1961) stitched a patriotic statement during the time of the Spanish-American War.

Frances Scott Key wrote the poem, “Defence of Fort M’Henry” in reaction to seeing an American flag flying over Fort McHenry as a signal of victory following the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Key’s words were set to an English song whose music was written by John Stafford Smith. Within weeks, the first broadside connecting music and lyric was printed and a short time later the song appeared in the Baltimore Patriot newspaper.

Key’s lyrics include four stanzas, but only the first is commonly sung rather than the controversial full lyrics containing a reference to slavery. In 1931, a congressional resolution made the “Star Spangled Banner” the National Anthem of the United States.

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