Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Project 70273 & Orphan Blocks

As soon as I read about The 70273 Project on Lori's Humble Quilts blog, I knew I wanted to give my support. You can read about Jeanne Hewell-Chambers quest to gather 70,273 blocks--that's one for each person who was murdered by the Nazis in 1940-41--and sew them into quilts. Just think about the magnitude of this project. It's beyond monumental!


An atrocity such as this is hard to fathom in any way, shape or form. But on a more familiar note, and the reason for my decision to participate, is that mental illness has found its way into our family making this project even more meaningful. 

I learned about Aunt May from my father. She was my grandmother's sister who was born in 1881 in NYC, married in 1909 in NJ, had a daughter in 1911 and. . .

. . . was institutionalized for 10 years or more at the NJ State Hospital for the Insane aka Greystone Park.

In 1920 she was 37 and a 'patient.'

In 1930 she was 46 and an 'inmate.' She is not in the 1940 census but her husband is and was remarried by then. I guess I will never know what really happened to her. She is a lost soul. 

This block is for my cousin who has been in and out of institutions since she was a little girl. 

Here we are when we were little. Kris (left) has struggled her entire life with mental illness which has affected our family in unimaginable ways.  

I hope you will consider making a block or two to support this worthwhile project. 


On another note, I've been sorting through some quilting memorabilia as I wanted to make a donation to AQSG for their upcoming auction in September. In so doing I came across these 1930s orphan blocks which I thought you'd like to see. They're not in great condition but are fun to look at. 

I was always going to garage sales looking for 'quilty' items and over the years had collected quite an assortment of goodies 

Star Flower?


Double Wedding Ring

Water Lily

Texas Star

Grandmother's Flower Garden

Orange Peel


So last Saturday I shipped a box for the auction filled with old quilt catalogs, templates, quilt and needlework patterns, postcards, unfinished blocks, embroidery transfers, and these tulips which I tucked in for padding.

Have a great week!

Copyright 2016, Barbara Schaffer


  1. Kudos to you for making your blocks. I am far behind as usual, but will be making mine and sending them off early next week. I wish I could go to the AQSG seminar and bid on your lovely blocks!

    1. Hey Wendy! The good news is that there's no "far behind" in The 70273 Project. Just happy to have you climb aboard whenever the time is right for you. Through the magic of Facebook, I've had a couple of people tell me that they heard about The 70273 Project from you, so thank you for that.

  2. Oh Barb, I will plan to post tomorrow about this project ! I hope French quilters will be touched by this sad period....
    Awesome blocks ! I love the fabrics.

    1. Cecile, Thank you in advance for your blog post. Will you please send me a link when it's published? I join you in hoping that French quilters will be touched and participate. We have one very talented, very active French quilter on board now. Let me know if you need anything from me. And hey, thank you.

  3. Barbara,

    Thank you so very much for this good blog post. It makes me sad that you'll never know much about your aunt, and it makes me warm to know that you've made blocks in honor of her. Some form of imperfection touches all of us, doesn't it? It is my fervent wish that The 70273 Project moves us closer to the time when we talk not about the disabled, but simply about people. Look forward to seeing your blocks and holding them in my hands. Thank you.

  4. Glad to have found you through the 70273 project, Barbara! I love your collection of quilt pieces, they are wonderful! I am so happy that you've joined Jeanne's merry band of makers: the subject matter may be sombre, and at times emotional, but the circle of hands making these blocks strengthens every day with each new helper! Thank you.

  5. I'm happy to see you have jumped in! We are all affected by mental illness in one way or the other.