An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

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For a lot of teachers, their job is more than merely covering the syllabus—they frequently go beyond the basic requirements, dedicating their time and energy to inspiring their pupils as much as possible. One such committed teacher was Ellen Harding Baker, an American astronomer from the 19th century, famous for a particularly crafty education method.

An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

For a lot of teachers, their job is more than merely covering the syllabus—they frequently go beyond the basic requirements, dedicating their time and energy to inspiring their pupils as much as possible. One such committed teacher was Ellen Harding Baker, an American astronomer from the 19th century, famous for a particularly crafty education method. She's rumored to have spent seven years embroidering the entire solar system onto a quilt, which she then used as a visual aid during her lectures.


Completed in 1876, the large, 89 × 106 inch Solar System Quilt was made from black woolen fabric and embellished with colorful wool-fabric appliqué, wool braid, as well as wool and silk embroidery. Similar to the solar system illustrations in astronomy books of the time, it features the sun at the center, the eight planets of the solar system, as well as the asteroid belt and a myriad of stitched stars. Earth’s Moon, the Galilean moons of Jupiter, and some moons for Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, are included as small embroidered dots, and Saturn’s rings feature as yellow fabric appliqué. A large comet in the upper left corner is also included, perhaps representing Halley’s comet, which had last been seen in 1835.


Baker’s Solar System Quilt is now held at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Although it’s not currently on view, its significance lives on.


An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System Quilt” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

Ellen Harding Baker (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System Quilt” (detail) (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students

Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System Quilt” (detail) (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


h/t: Open Culture

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Thinking Humanity: An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students
An Astronomy Teacher In 1876 Handcrafted This Quilt To Help Her Teach Her Students
For a lot of teachers, their job is more than merely covering the syllabus—they frequently go beyond the basic requirements, dedicating their time and energy to inspiring their pupils as much as possible. One such committed teacher was Ellen Harding Baker, an American astronomer from the 19th century, famous for a particularly crafty education method.
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