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Quilts and Quiltmaking in America now available on American Memory

The National Digital Library Program and the American Folklife Center of

the Library of Congress are pleased to announce the release of the
online presentation Quilts and Quiltmaking in America.  There are many
ways to study quiltmaking, but one of the most rewarding is to look at
the kinds of quilts that were made in a particular time and place.  To
understand the local picture, however, a researcher needs to know how
the local traditions compare with national trends or with local
traditions elsewhere.  Quilts and Quiltmaking in America presents 181
segments from recorded interviews with quiltmakers and 410 graphic
images (prints, positive transparencies, and negatives) from two
collections in the American Folklife Center: the Blue Ridge Parkway
Folklife Project and the Lands’ End All-American Quilt Contest
Collection.  The images of the quilts convey the range of contemporary
quiltmaking styles in the United States, while the recorded interview
segments provide a more in-depth portrait of quiltmaking within the
context of the quiltmakers’ lives and region.

The quilt-related information in the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project

is significant because it represents in-depth interviews with a number
of quiltmakers within a limited geographic area during the
late-twentieth-century quiltmaking revival.  Photographs and brief
interview segments were chosen from the collection by the project’s
consultant, Laurel Horton, to provide viewers with a guide to the story
of quiltmaking in the Blue Ridge. She selected six individuals who
represent a cross-section of the quiltmakers in the region at the time
of the project (1978) and selected photographs and narratives of both
historic and newly made quilts.  Because the interview subjects present
a range of backgrounds, motivations, and aesthetic sensibilities, their
interviews reveal the difficulty of defining a single “Appalachian”
quiltmaking tradition.  The quilts selected represent a range of
functional types, including utility bedquilts, elaborate special quilts,

and those made to sell at craft shops and flea markets.  As a result,
the interviews and visual images demonstrate both continuing local
traditions and the influence of the national quilt  revival.

In the years since it was created, the Blue Ridge collection has become
an important source of historical information.  In order to enhance its
accessibility to researchers who may be hearing-impaired, unfamiliar
with the dialect of the subject or interviewer, use English as a second
language, or need clarification of quilt-related vocabulary or local
place names, all audio material in this online collection has been
transcribed by Ms. Horton.

 The Lands’ End collection provides a different but complementary window

into late-twentieth-century quiltmaking.  This online presentation
documents the 181 state and national winners of contests sponsored by
the company in 1992, 1994, and 1996, and reflects a sampling of
excellent design and technical skill characteristic of prizewinning
quilts during this period.  This collection is important because it
represents a large number of quilt images from all across the country
and because it includes statements provided by the makers in surveys
about their quilts.  The Lands’ End contest winners represent a wide
range of quiltmaking activity, from highly traditional to innovative.

This addition to the American Memory Historical Collections can be
accessed at the following url:

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources
available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain
and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for
future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library
Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical
and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong

Please direct any questions to [log in to unmask]

   Elizabeth L. Brown, Reference Librarian, etc.
   National Digital Library Program, LIBN/NDL/VC(1330)
   Library of Congress, Washington, DC  20540-1330
   [log in to unmask]                telephone: 202/707-2235

   Library of Congress American Memory Home Page: