Quilt Honors FFRF’s Anne Gaylor as “Troublemaker”

Foundation president emerita Anne Nicol Gaylor is one of nine “troublemakers” featured on the 2006 Wisconsin Women Library Workers Quilt. The quilt, which has been on public display at the main branch of the Madison, Wis. public library, is being raffled on Feb. 11 as a benefit for the Wisconsin Women Library Workers.

Anne is in the company of atheist and anarchist Emma Goldman; Bella Abzug; Delores Huerta; Mother Jones; “Delilah,” instanced as a “bad” woman from the bible who has been devalued because she was a troublemaker; novelist Nella Larsen; Mae West, and, very fittingly, the feminist and freethinker Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Each librarian who participated in the project chose their own “troublemaker” to honor.

The beautiful square featuring Anne was created by her daughter-in-law, Nancy McClements, who is not only a talented quilter but Head of Reference at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library.

Below is the official statement that accompanies the quilt:

By Nancy McClements

Anne Nicol Gaylor is a founder and past president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), a national association devoted to keeping church and state separate. Born near Tomah, Wis., Anne graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1949 with a degree in English. She started Madison’s first temp office help agency in 1958, and edited and co-owned (with her husband Paul) the Middleton Times-Tribune, an award-winning weekly newspaper. A feminist activist and author, in 1967 she wrote one of the first editorials in the nation calling for the legalization of abortion. She founded the Zero Population Growth Abortion Referral Service in 1970. For more than 30 years she has been the volunteer director of the Women’s Medical Fund, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization she co-founded in 1972. It provides direct financial aid to Wisconsin women who would like to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Anne switched her energies to working against the church when she realized that it was at the root of many women’s rights struggles. FFRF had many successful campaigns during Anne’s 27-year tenure, including removing Ten Commandments monuments and crches from public lands, overturning the Good Friday state holiday, and eliminating tax support for religious programs and schools. Anne was named Feminist of the Year by the Wisconsin National Organization for Women in 1994 and received a Humanist Heroine Award in 1985 by the American Humanist Association. Her favorite award was being named “Madison’s favorite religious leader” in 1989 by Madison’s weekly, Isthmus.

My square depicts Anne, my mother-in-law, in front of Wisconsin’s Capitol, the site of many of FFRF’s successful lawsuits. The photo transfer is framed by traditional pieced triangles, many using a pansy design. The pansy is a symbol of freedom of thought, from the French word for thought, pensee.

Freedom From Religion Foundation