National Museum of the American Coverlet
322 S. Juliana St   ♦  Bedford, PA 15522   ♦   (814) 623 1588   ♦

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors consists of museum professionals, coverlet enthusiasts, and architectural experts. They are experienced, “can-do” people with a commonsense, practical attitude, who recognize, respect and credit the work of others and who know that big things can be accomplished without spending huge dollars. They share the vision, agree on how best to achieve it, and are working cohesively to accomplish the goal.

Ron Walter Ron Walter (Pennsylvania) - Researcher/Collector/Author. Mr. Walter has been researching Bucks County figured and fancy coverlets and their weavers for over 35 years. To date he has recorded almost 300 coverlets woven in Bucks County. For the last 10 years he has broadened his interest and research to cover all types of coverlets woven in United States in the late 18th and the 19th centuries. Over these many years he and his wife Kitty Bell Walter have been collecting antiques and tools used in the home and on the farm. They have held a special interest in textiles and tools related to textile production in the home and weaving shop. Ron has assisted Joel Alderfer in preparing coverlet exhibitions at the Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania Museum in 1987 and 1998. For many years Ron and Kitty Bell have been members of the Bucks County Historical Society, the Early American Industries Association and the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America. Recently he has been collecting and researching spinning wheels and hetchels and their makers. His written articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications.

 Marty Schlabach Marty Schlabach (New York) - came to coverlets through his wife, Mary Jean Welser. She has been interested in and collected textiles for many years, with a particular interest in quilts. About 2011, while pawing through a pile of textiles at a local estate sale, Mary Jean came across two whole cloth, early 19th century quilts and one geometric overshot coverlet. Thus started their interest in, exploration of and collection of coverlets. As a retired librarian, Marty particularly enjoys the historical research associated with learning about coverlets. Marty and Mary Jean live in the Finger Lakes area of New York and spend substantial time gardening and restoring their 1840s Greek Revival farmhouse.

Tracy LewisTracy Lewis (Maryland) - Tracy is a relatively new coverlet collector and historian. With Master's degrees in American History and Library Science, she teaches history for the Frederick (MD) Community College Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR). Her courses include the early history of the Virginia colony and pirates in the Chesapeake Bay. A native Marylander, she has developed an affinity for figured and fancy coverlets woven in the north central part of the state. She wrote an article for the Third Quarter 2021 Colonial Coverlet Guild of America newsletter titled "Attributed to Abraham Young," a weaver from Walkersville, MD. Tracy is a knitter and novice weaver. She is also a natural dyer, who uses dye materials foraged from around her home. She belongs to the Weavers' Guild of Greater Baltimore as well as the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America.

Sara Bixler (Pennsylvania) - Sara holds a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Bachelor of Science in K-12 education. Although she gives full credit for the depth of her knowledge as second generation handweaver, spinner and dyer to her lifelong apprenticeship with her father, Tom Knisely master weaver she has carved out a name for herself in both domestic and international teaching classrooms. Sara is a frequent contributor to Handwoven Magazine and Spin off Magazine. Sara is also the owner of Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center in York Haven, Pennsylvania. Nestled in the heart of Central PA in her historic 1810 home she provides a haven for fiber artist to gains an appreciation and working understanding of handcrafts, their history and making techniques. Sara is best known for her work with color theory studies and surface embellishment in weaving, but hold a candle for historic textiles and tools, along with the stories they tell.

Honorary Board Members

In its early days, The National Museum of the American Coverlet established an Honorary Board for the purpose of recognizing people who have made a major contribution to the world of textiles and, in particular, to education about coverlets and their importance in American History.  Over the years, these folks have supported the Coverlet Museum in many ways.  We are honored to count them among our friends. With their permission, we salute them and their good work.

Cassie Dickson (North Carolina) - A Mississippi native, Cassie has lived in western North Carolina for the past 30 years. As a heritage member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, she specializes in the weaving of historical coverlets and linens. In addition, she spins, natural dyes, grows and processes the flax plant to linen cloth and raises silkworms for yarns and fabrics. Honors include being interviewed by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for the National Woven Coverlet Project and weaving an historical coverlet for The Arlington House in Washington, D.C. She is a regular presenter at the Coverlet Museum's annual Coverlet College, held each September.

Betty and James Doig (Illinois) - Jim and Betty are the immediate past co-Presidents of the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America.  Their longtime love of coverlets and their many years of service to the CCGA have helped bring untold numbers of “newbies” into the fold.  Their patient and tireless work ensured that each annual meeting has been an event not to be missed.  Over the years, thanks to Jim and Betty, CCGA members have enjoyed behind-the-scenes visits and coverlet-related tours at numerous Museums and historic places.  With their careful and seamless management, each meeting has been an exciting learning experience, all the while with an atmosphere of a friendly family reunion.

Virginia GunnVirginia Gunn (Ohio) -- Virginia is a professor of Clothing, Textiles, and Interiors and Director of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Akron in Ohio. She teaches courses on the history of costume and fashion, the history of interior design, and material-culture studies. She holds a B.S. in home economics education from Kansas State University, a M.S. in applied art from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Akron. She is a past president (1990-93) and board member (1984-94) of the American Quilt Study Group and edited Uncoverings from 1994 to 2003. Her publications focus on quilts, coverlets, and women’s history. She has served on the board of trustees of the Wayne County Historical Society in Wooster, Ohio, where she is currently on the textile committee and served as co-chair of the Beall-Stibbs Homestead restoration project (2003-13).

Martha Jack(New York) -- The late Martha Jack was a true pioneer in coverlet stewardship.  She and her loving husband John were active antiques dealers, specializing in coverlets and bird’s eye maple furniture.  Martha was a founding leader of the Alling Museum in Palmyra, New York.  She and John were longtime members of the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America, quietly supporting it for many years.  The National Museum of the American Coverlet has long honored her many years of devoted interest in coverlets.  From its earliest days, Martha was a major multifaceted donor to the Coverlet Museum in Bedford.  She was NMAC’s first Honorary Board member. Most importantly, she and John were cherished friends.  They may no longer be with us, but they will be in our hearts forever.

Christine Jeryan (Michigan) - Chris is an accomplished weaver and pro bono textile historian at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. She cataloged the Museum’s most recent major coverlet donations, creating detailed descriptions and researching both weavers and owners of the coverlets. She also speaks frequently about American coverlets to weaving guilds and historical societies.  A 30-year interest in textiles has led Mrs. Jeryan to the study of tartan weaving, fabric finishing, collapse weaves, historic American textiles, 19th-century rugs, and more. She has spent her career in Museum Services, scientific research, writing and editing, and a myriad of special projects. She has been an independent contractor associated with the Plymouth Center for Human Development, the Cranbrook Institute of Science, the Gale Group, and the Henry Ford Museum, all in Michigan. Her activities have included publishing the local Sherlock Homes Society newsletter, volunteering at the Heritage Spinning and Weaving (Lake Orion, MI), and memberships in the Michigan Weavers Guild and the Handweavers Guild of America. She is co-owner with her late husband Richard of Fell’s Edge LLC, selling fiber and fine handwoven goods.

Richard Jeryan (Michigan) - Retired technical leader in vehicle design research and advanced engineering at Ford Motor Company. Mr. Jeryan’s extensive and varied work as a registered professional engineer included the development of fiber reinforced polymer and other lightweight materials in vehicle body and chassis structures, with particular emphasis on crashworthiness. After his retirement, his longtime commitment to textiles led to his work at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, where he studied, taught and practiced the weaving craft. There, he designed the fabrics and oversaw the weaving in the Village Weaving Shop. At The Loom Room in Staffordshire, UK, he studied the design of Jacquard fabrics and the preparation of punched cards; and he restored the Jacquard loom at Greenfield Village. Mr. Jeryan wove at home and at a local Detroit art center. He was co-owner of Fell’s Edge LLC, selling fiber and fine woven goods. He was particularly interested in the important role textiles played in the development of the social and technological fabric of America.  At the time of his recent passing, he was President of the international Complex Weavers guild.

Tom Knisely (Pennsylvania) – For more than thirty years, Tom was the general manager and handweaving teacher – offering classes in everything from rag rug weaving to complex multi-harness shaft weaving -  at The Mannings Handweaving School and Supply Center in East Berlin, Pennsylvania.  He now teaches with his daughter Sara at the new Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center in York Haven, Pennsylvania.   In addition to teaching, he weaves professionally.  He is a frequent contributor to Handwoven and Rug Hooking magazines and has created design collections and instructional DVDs on looms, weaving rugs and other weaving matters.  Voted Handwoven Teacher of the Year in 2011, Tom is renowned among his weaving students for his kindness, good humor and “seemingly infinite knowledge of the subject of weaving.”

Edward MaederEdward Maeder (Massachusetts) - Recently retired from his position as Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Textiles at Historic Deerfield, Mr. Maeder has organized over 50 exhibitions and written for numerous publications. He has held curatorial positions at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and he was Founding Director of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada . Mr. Maeder has served as consultant to many renowned institutions in the U.S. and abroad; and he has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern California , Abegg Stiftung (Bern, Switzerland), and the Costume College in Van Nuys, California. He has lectured on costumes, textiles, conservation and collections in 26 states and 18 foreign countries. Mr. Maeder is an expert in the complete timeline of textile history, and how coverlets fit into the picture.

Harold F. Mailand Harold F. Mailand (Indiana) - Harold holds a Master of Arts for Teachers degree in textiles, education, and art history from Indiana University. His training in textile conservation includes internships at The Textile Museum; Smithsonian Institution; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Costume Institute/Metropolitan Museum of Art. His training was funded with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Museum Act and others.

Mr. Mailand was Associate Textile Conservator for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and in 1986 he founded Textile Conservation Services, a textile conservation facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He is a Fellow in American Institute for Conservation (AIC) His most recent publication is a 1999, co-authored, 92 page text entitled, Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist. He has lectured on preservation issues in England, Italy, Germany (in German), Canada, and throughout the United States.

In 2002, Mr. Mailand was selected as a Samuel H. Kress Conservation Publication Fellow to pursue research in the traditions of preserving textiles and costumes. Since 2002 he has also been the instructor for "Care of Textiles" at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies. In 2011 he was awarded the Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship. The Textile Specialty Group of AIC designated him as the 2015 recipient of the award for outstanding contributions to the field of textile conservation.

Gay McGeary (Pennsylvania) - Gay has been weaving, collecting, and researching early coverlet patterns and weave structures for over twenty five years. While her weaving is inspired by her research, her research is enhanced by her weaving explorations of the early craftsmen. A retired accountant for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, she calls herself a "numbers person", intrigued by the complex weave structures used by the Pennsylvania Germans to craft something both useful and beautiful. By collecting and analyzing the physical techniques of early weavers, she uses their examples as inspiration for her own work. She is a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen (Yellow Breeches Chapter) and exhibits her work at Guild-related shows, as well as local galleries. Gay shares her research as a regular contributor to various weaving periodicals, including the Complex Weavers Journal. She is the chair of the Complex Weavers Early American Study Group and edits that group’s newsletter. She enjoys giving workshops and lecture presentations to interest groups, including the annual Weaving History Conference at Clayton, N.Y. and at various other regional weavers' guilds. Gay is a founding member of the National Coverlet Museum and has been a contributor to the annual coverlet college. She lives with her husband in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in a limestone home filled with looms, coverlets, antiques, and cats.  Recently retired from the Coverlet Museum Board of Directors, she continues to support and participate in Museum activities and programs.

Sumpter PriddySumpter Priddy III (Virginia) – Historian, author, and expert in the research of material culture.  Mr. Priddy is specifically interested in the relationship between architecture, history and the decorative arts.  He is actively engaged in researching America’s early artisans and has assembled one of the most extensive photographic libraries of regional decorative arts in private hands.  His prior associations include Historic Deerfield as tutor in the Summer Fellowship Program, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as Teaching Curator.  His numerous publications include his book, American Fancy, which was accompanied by a major traveling exhibit, receiving rave reviews.  The book received the Historic New England 2004 Book Prize for its “significant contribution to the study of American and New England Culture.”  The inspiration for this landmark 15-year project, was a coverlet inscribed “.... FANCY WEAVER.”

John Simmermaker (Indiana) – Longtime collector and member of this Museum, John Simmermaker first became interested in coverlets when his 99 year-old grandmother threatened to burn an old coverlet which had been her mother’s.  John and his wife knew nothing about coverlets but managed to convince his grandmother to give hers to them instead, and soon they found themselves collecting…  That was in 1972.  Shortly thereafter, John and his wife met and became good friends with Pauline Montgomery, author of Indiana Coverlet Weavers and Their Coverlets.  That friendship fueled their interest even further. Since then, with the enthusiastic support and participation of his entire family, John’s passion has resulted in one of the largest and most respected private collections in the country. John has generously given talks and presentations, shown his coverlets, and shared his knowledge with numerous groups and institutions, among them Connor Prairie and the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America.  Until 2004, most of his activities focused on his home state of Indiana.  The landmark “Kaleidoscope” exhibition (April-November 2014) here at NMAC marked the first time his coverlets have been on display outside the Hoosier State. 

Museum Director/Curator

Melinda Zongor. Mrs. Zongor has lived with antiques for fifty years (her husband Laszlo would no doubt say that for the last thirty-two, he has been one of them). She has been a weaver, both independently and for a custom weaving house. In 1988 she curated and wrote the catalog for the landmark Hirschl & Adler Folk (NYC, New York) exhibition “Warm and Wonderful: The Jacquard Coverlet.” She is author of the books Coverlets and the Spirit of America: The Shein Collection and Coverlets at the Gilchrist: American Coverlets 1771-1889. Her contributions to the newsletter for the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America, include her article entitled “A National Coverlet Museum: We Need One,” written in October of 2003. On the Board of Directors of the Antiques Council, she served as Director of Education, in charge of their annual publication of educational articles written by Council members.

For twenty years, Laszlo and Melinda Zongor were in the antiques trade specializing in coverlets. They have presented coverlet exhibitions, lectures, technical consults and general advice for collectors, the antiques trade, the feature film industry, print media, and a variety of groups, large and small. They have helped build several major coverlet collections and have dedicated their lives together to educating about, and raising awareness and appreciation of, coverlets.

In 2006 they gave up their business and co-founded the non-profit National Museum of the American Coverlet. Together they keep the Museum open seven days a week, year-round.

The Zongors are members of the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America, and former members of the Antiques Council, the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA), and the Antiques Dealers Association (ADA).