Friday, November 20, 2009

The Quilt Index and Merikay Walvogel

Our 2009 Honoree, Merikay Waldvogel, has been deeply involved in The Alliance for American Quilts for a number of years and has been especially active in helping with two of their projects: The Quilt Index and Boxes Under the Bed.

The Quilt Index is a collaboration of The Alliance for American Quilts, Michigan State University Museum, and MATRIX: The Center for Humane, Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online. If you haven't yet browsed The Quilt Index, you are in for a treat.

(photo by Sue Jones)

Coinciding with the launch of the new and improved Quilt Index site is the launch of their Signature Quilt Project. You can now search to see if there is a particular name on a quilt or even a place name. However, most Signature quilts uploaded to the Index before the creation of the Signature Quilt Pilot Project do not yet have names transcribed. This will all take time.

Three blocks from a New York Signature Quilt

Transcription can be challenging if signatures are numerous or difficult to read, but it is very rewarding to make the effort. In the process be reassured, you are adding important information to women's history, quilt history and community history.

To read the behind-the-scenes story of one research project in progress on a New york Signature quilt, click here.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

In addition, I have just finished transcribing 250+ names on a 1941-1942 Navy Signature Quilt now in the Quilt Index Signature Quilt Pilot Project.

I know Merikay Waldvogel—as well as our other Honorees—would encourage all of us to document all of our quilts but especially our Signature Quilts! You can download a form by clicking here and begin documenting your own quilts. If a museum or State/Regional Documentation Project wishes to enter a collection into The Quilt index, visit this link for guidelines.

In addition to quilts, The Index is also beginning to digitalize quilt ephemera beginning with The Quilt Journal - An International Review. You can now download individual issues of this journal as a pdf file by clicking here. Waldvogel is now assisting The Quilt Index with the digitalization of her own extensive quilt history ephemera collection.

Another exciting project to look forward to when completed — with NEH support, the Quilt Index project team andhe American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) have worked together to digitize abstracts for AQSG's journal, Uncoverings, and to develop a plan and budget for future inclusion of the journal in the Quilt Index.

The founder of AQSG, Sally Garoutte, is also an Honoree of The Quilters Hall of Fame as are several very early members of AQSG: Joyce Gross, Cuesta Benberry, Barbara Brackman and Bets Ramsey. You can read a short biography of each here.

Click here for an article by Merikay Waldvogel
about the AAQ Crazy Quilts contest.

Click here for Part 1 of an interview of Merikay by "The Collector's Weekly".

Click here for Part 2 about collecting American quilts by Merikay Waldvogel in "The Collector's Weekly".

Until the next TQHF update,

Karen Alexander
Click here to reach me by email.

PS: You can read more of my quilt research by clicking here.