"The Quilted Conscience," an Abbott Sisters Project


The Grand Island Community Foundation is proud to serve as the sponsoring fiscal agent for The Abbott Sisters Project and The Quilted Conscience film and workshop.


THE ABBOTT SISTERS PROJECT honors and perpetuates the living legacy of Grand Island, Nebraska born-and-raised social justice pioneers, Grace and Edith Abbott, and educates Americans concerning the history--and contemporary needs of--the children’s and immigration rights movements in the U.S.

The Project has worked closely with the Office of the Governor of the State of Nebraska to create the annual “Abbott Sisters Day,” and with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to create the annual “Grace Abbott Children’s Awards.” It has also partnered in work to name the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), to establish the Abbott-Independent Scholarship Fund at UNO, to restore the Grace Abbott Children’s Park of Grand Island, Nebraska, to create and install bronze busts of the sisters in the Edith Abbott Memorial Library of Grand Island, and to establish the Abbott Sisters Research Center, also at the Edith Abbott Library.

Book publications include The Grace Abbott Reader (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and Grace Abbott: An Introduction (University of Nebraska-Omaha, 2010). Media works include The Children's Champion (Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, 2002), My Sister and Comrade (Nebraska Public Radio, 1995) and Grace Abbott: An Introduction (video version, 1998).  The Project's newest endeavor is The Quilted Conscience, a film of its ongoing "culture-blend" story-quilt workshops with immigrant children across America.


The Quilted Conscience ...


In the very heart of Middle America, in a town that looks like the setting for a Frank Capra film, The Quilted Conscience is the story of a group of sixteen Sudanese-American girls – refugees from the genocide in their homeland – who are thrust into a disorienting new world; of a quilter’s guild of local women; and of a famed African-American quilt-maker (Peggie Hartwell) who travels a thousand miles to bring the two groups together by means of a “culture-blend” fabric-art project: the creation of a wall-size mural, composed of dozens of small story-panels created by the Sudanese children with the help of the local women.

The girls use the American story-quilt form, a tradition of their new country, to share the tribal stories and customs of their families’ old homeland with their Nebraska neighbors. The subjects of the students’ quilt panels are Dreams & Memories – showing the girls’ memories of Africa and their dreams of America. The Memories are cultural memories, honoring the traditions and heritage of the students’ families and communities back in their Sudanese homeland, showing what is best and most special to them in their African pasts. The Dreams are personal dreams of each student. These images show the wonderful things that the students will do in their American futures, with some students also creating “dream images” that offer a glimpse into their inner worlds and night-dreams, with subject matter ranging from hopes of being doctors or judges - and even of becoming a professional female football player.

A short video sampler (with scenes from the film) has been posted on YOUTUBE.


This project, a film, is a celebration of African culture in the middle of America. Along the way, it shares the inspiring message of hometown hero Grace Abbott, who was born and raised in the Sudanese students’ new community of Grand Island. Grace Abbott was an extraordinary leader in the struggles for America’s children and immigrants who, as Director of the Immigrants’ Protective League (1908-1921) and Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau (1921-1934), is credited with saving thousands of children’s and immigrants’ lives and improving those of millions more, and is specially remembered for her famous quote, “Justice for all children is the high ideal in a democracy” – which serves as the credo for the film.


For more information please contact the Community Foundation at 308-381-7767.