Quilt Treasures: Collectors and Historians


“Quilt Treasures are the special women and men who were key to the American quilt revival of the 1960s and 1970s, reawakening interest nationwide in the history, craft, and social and aesthetic value of quilts. They ensured the preservation and documentation of quilts through the state and regional quilt projects and they took quilting as a cultural expression to new heights. As creators, teachers, communicators, and links in a growing network, these ‘quilt treasures’ built an art form and an industry that today involves and touches millions of Americans. As these individuals began to retire from active involvement in the quilt world, an important piece of American social and cultural history was at risk of being lost.”
–Alliance for American Quilts co-founder Shelly Zegart, 2003

The Quilt Treasures Project is a collaborative effort between The Alliance for American Quilts, the Michigan State University Museum, and MATRIX: The Center for the Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online to document the stories of a limited number of notable individuals — quilt makers, designers, business people, collectors, scholars, publishers — who were instrumental in moving the 20th century quilt revival forward in some significant way.  The quilts featured in this gallery are examples from the Quilt Index that were quilted, inspired, or collected by one of the Quilt Treasures. 

Individuals currently documented or soon to be documented as Quilt Treasures include:
Web portraits of all of the Quilt Treasures can be found on The Alliance for American Quilts’ website at
Selected Related Publications:
  • Crosby, David. Quilts and Quilting in Claiborne County: Traditions and Change in a Rural Southern County. Port Gibson, Mississippi: Mississippi Cultural Crossroads, 1999.
  • Dubois, Jean. The Colonial History Quilt. Wheat Ridge, CO: Leman Publications, 1976.
  • Gross, Joyce and Cuesta Benberry. 20th Century Quilts: 1900-1970: Women Make Their Mark. Paducah, KY: American Quilter's Society, 1997.
  • Marston, Gwen and Joe Cunningham. Mary Schafer and Her Quilts. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Museum, 1990.
Quilt Treasures: Collectors and Historians
The quilt collectors and historians featured in this gallery are Joyce Gross, editor and publisher, The Quilt Journal (1977-1987), Bets Ramsey, co-director of the Tennessee Quilt Survey, Mary Vida Schafer, an important quiltmaker, historian, and collector in American quilt studies, and Shelly Zegart, co-founder of The Alliance for American Quilts.

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