Created in 1933, this commemorative pillow sham was just one of a number of textiles created by second-generation Hungarian immigrant Rose Mary Drab to honor her brother Edward’s service in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Rose Mary appliquéd the black cotton sateen sham with a small cotton tent, a blue eagle and two small stars, and hills, pine trees, and a large sunburst all in green felted wool.
Both the sateen and felt were very likely bought new, despite the financial constraints caused by the Great Depression. The appliquéd blue eagle and two stars were not handmade and were either purchased or salvaged from another piece. The tent was probably a scrap taken from an old work shirt.
Yellow embroidery traces the outlines of the felt trees and star, as well as the text “US,” “CCC,” “ED” (for Edward Drab), “Pres. FDR,” the year 1933, and—on the canvas tent—Edward’s CCC Camp number, 657. Rose Mary also embroidered the slogan “When we finish our part / A new day will dawn” in red thread.
This sham is an example of Depression-era needlework from one of Wisconsin’s many immigrant families and is a distinct artifact of everyday life in Wisconsin’s Langlade County during the 1930s.
Listen below to the CCC Pillow Sham’s segment on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life
Written by Joe Hermolin, October 2015.
Special thanks to the textiles expertise of Leslie Bellais, Curator of Social History, Wisconsin Historical Society.
Object courtesy of the Langlade County Historical Society.