Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project



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History and Description of State and Regional Quilt Inventories

In 1981, The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. initiated the first statewide quilt documentation project. Individuals across the state brought quilts from closets, beds, and trunks to schools, museums, and other public places where the quilts were photographed, quilt owners told stories (sometimes tape-recorded) about these quilts, and detailed information on the quilt's maker, history, fabric, style, and construction was recorded on research inventory forms. The Kentucky model for quilt documentation quickly spread across the country and, by 1995, a survey conducted by the Museum of the American Quilters' Society found that 47 states had one or more documentation projects underway. Individuals based in museums, historical societies, or arts councils led some of these projects; others were led wholly by groups established for the specific purpose of conducting the documentation project. In all cases, the projects relied on hundreds of volunteers and, by 1995, the projects collectively had resulted in massive amounts of collected data on more than 165,000 quilts.

History and Description of the Michigan Quilt Project (MQP)

Michigan began its own inventory in 1984 under the direction of the Michigan State University Museum and continues today with the dedicated participation of volunteers throughout the state. The goal was simply to document quilts--regardless of age, technique, or original provenance-that had meaning to a Michigander or Michigan organization. Since the Michigan Quilt Project (MQP) began, over 75 Quilt Discovery Days have been held at libraries, museums, extension offices, churches, and other locations throughout the state. Special efforts were made during 1986 to record quilting in the Upper Peninsula and African American quilting, both traditions that were under-represented in the first year of the project.

Quilt Documentation Day

Sarah Stollack (right) interviews quiltmaker Mary Calhoun (center) while MSU student
Katy Donaldson (left) takes notes. At the Michigan Quilt Project's Quilt Documentation
Day on National Quilt Day, March 13, 2001. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong.


The Michigan Quilt Project Collection

The Michigan Quilt Project (MQP) Collection consists of photographs, oral history interviews, over 9000 quilt inventory forms, and ephemera associated with the state's quilt documentation project. Housed at the Michigan State University Museum, the collection serves as an important source of data for research, education, and exhibitions projects.The Michigan Quilt Project Collection provided the data for an initial survey exhibition and accompanying publication, Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition (1987) as well as an array of other interpretive exhibitions, educational programs, and scholarly studies, including those on specific quilters or quilting groups, regional variations in patterns or quilt-related activities, the impact of local media or fairs on quilt production, and the quilting history of specific regions, religious groups, ethnic groups, or other communities. The activities associated with the Michigan Quilt Project documentation project led to the establishment of what is now known as the Great Lakes Quilt Center, based at the Michigan State University Museum. In 2001, the Center joined with The Alliance for American Quilts as a Regional Center for the Quilt.

The Quilt Index

The Michigan Quilt Project Collection is one of ten collections across the nation to be part of the landmark The Quilt Index, an online resource which provides central, searchable access to more than 21,000 quilts. The Quilt Index was conceived and developed by The Alliance for American Quilts in partnership with Michigan State University Museum/Great Lakes Quilt Center and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts and Letters Online, at Michigan State University. Funding for the initial development and deployment of the Index was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Search the MQP in The Quilt Index
Register a quilt in the Michigan Quilt Project Inventory
Print a PDF MQP Inventory Form or
Download a MQP form in MS Word


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