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Annie E. Pettway

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2021-11-04T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | 0 Comments

African American quilter Annie E. Pettway was a member of the historic quilting community in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, along with Loretta Pettway, Mary Lee Bendolph, Louisiana Pettway Bendolph, Delia Bennett, Martha Jane Pettway, and Nettie Young. Born June 18, 1904, Annie Pettway lived in the Sodom neighborhood of Gee’s Bend. Her son Willie Quill Pettway recounts: “She was married to Ed O.—they said Pettway, but he was a Williams. They changed his name to Pettway because he was living on the Pettway place, and they had to change their name as long as they stay on the place.”[1] She taught her daughters and granddaughters how to quilt and was the grandmother of quilter Rita Mae Pettway and great-grandmother of quilter Louisiana Pettway Bendolph. Rita Mae recounts, “She didn’t have no pattern to go by; she just cut them by the way she know how to make them.”[2] Louisiana was moved by seeing her great-grandmother’s quilt on view in the Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2002: “When I got to my great-grandmother’s quilt, I cried. I cried to see our history and our past up on those walls and realizing that Mama—Annie E.—had left a legacy. . . . When she had died, she was just “Mama,” but now she had been reborn as someone who people were respecting. . . . It brought tears to my eyes.”[3]

Annie E. Pettway died in June 1972.


PMA Collection



[1] Willie Quill Pettway quoted in Beardsley 2002, 308.

[2] Rita Mae Pettway quoted in Beardsley 2002, 299.

[3] Bendolph 2006, 193; “Mama” was the name Louisiana used for her great-grandmother. She is not really referring to her as her mother because she calls her a great-grandmother.



“Annie E. Pettway.” Souls Grown Deep. Accessed September 16, 2021.

Beardsley, John. 2002. “Sodom.” In Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts. Edited by John Beardsley, William Arnett, and Paul Arnett. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.
Bendolph, Louisiana P. 2006. “A New Generation of ‘Housetops.’” In Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt. Edited by Paul Arnett, Joanne Cubbs, and Eugene W. Metcalf Jr. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.

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