Profile: Bettie Bendolph Seltzer (1939-2017)

Bettie Bendolph Seltzer was an American artist. She is associated with the Gee’s Bend quilting collective, along with her mother, Annie Bendolph, and her mother-in-law, Sue Willie Seltzer. She worked at the Freedom Quilting Bee.

Life

Bettie was married to the son of Sue Willie Seltzer, Benjamin Seltzer. She was the postmaster for Boykin, Alabama, a job which she loved.

Work

Quilting in Gee’s Bend was both a means for survival and community bonding. Bettie’s mother, Annie Bendolph, taught Bettie to make quilts out of old clothes, fertilizer sacks, dress tails, and meal and flour sacks. Bettie learned to make quilts at about ten years old, when she and her mother would join other women at each others houses to sew just one or two families’ quilts at one time. “The ladies then piece their quilts at home and go to each other house to help quilt.”

For the first time, The Freedom Quilting Bee allowed women in Gee’s Bend to sew with new cloth. After the bee, Bettie never returned to repurposed material because it was too difficult to sew.

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