Tuesday Talk is Patterns of Patterns: What We Saw at the Quilt History Days

The Nebraska Quilt by Louise Howey, 1945
The Nebraska Quilt by Louise Howey, 1945

Twenty-five years ago a dedicated group of 21 volunteers set out to document Nebraska quilts that remained in private hands, fearful that the rich heritage inherent in the family quilts would be lost forever if not documented. The Nebraska quilt project team, in numerous day-long events, collected information on 1,557 quiltmakers who made 3216 quilts between 1870 and 1989.

Led by director Frankie Best, the group recorded family stories, photographed each quilt, and gathered background on the quiltmakers, including gender, occupation, ethnicity, religious background, education, and the occasion that prompted a quilt’s creation.

Shortly after the results of the state survey were published in an award-winning volume titled “Nebraska Quilts and Quiltmakers,” Ardis and Robert James began looking for a home for their outstanding collection of nearly 1000 quilts. The Jameses looked to their home state of Nebraska, recognized as a leader in the movement to document quilt history. Impressed by the quality of the research featured in “Nebraska Quilts and Quiltmakers” and the level of grass-roots support found among Nebraskans, they proposed that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was an ideal home for their quilts. The Jameses approached Patricia Crews, professor of Textiles, Clothing and Design at the university, who was the academic adviser to the project team and co-editor the Nebraska book and asked if the University would be interested in accepting a donation of their collection. In 1997, the center was formed, as the first academic center devoted to the study of quilts across time and space.

The documentation and research begun by the Nebraska Quilt Project team paved the way for the formation of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. The museum today is home to a number of the quilts that were featured in the book “Nebraska Quilts and Quiltmakers.” The quilts were donated by those who were inspired by the survey project volunteers to recognize the importance of preserving their family quilt and its provenance.

More details at: http://quiltstudy.org