The Quilt Index, originally launched in 2003, is an open access, digital repository of thousands of images, stories and information about quilts and their makers drawn from hundreds of public and private collections around the world. It represents the work of thousands of community-based and independent scholars, digital humanists, and professionals in libraries, archives, and museums who are dedicated to preserving and making accessible quilt history.

The Quilt Index is a digital humanities research and education project of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University. Major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Services was critical in the initial planning and implementation phases. Maintenance and growth of the Quilt Index has relied on individual donations, contracts, grants (with special support from the Salser Family Foundation and the Robert and Ardis James Foundation) and in-kind contributions from Michigan State University.

As of 2020, all the data in the Quilt Index is associated, meaning that many connections will be automatically presented as individuals search data. Additional tools to help mine and use this enormous data set include search and compare, filters and sorts, Zoom (the capacity to enlarge images), and automated citations.

Additional resources to facilitate the use of the Quilt Index and to expand quilt studies include:
  •  • Essays
    Under a grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, the Quilt Index began to add short essays about a variety of quilt-related topics by Quilt Index staff and invited contributors. Each essay currently consists of an unlimited text area, a side bar of featured quilt image records, and an option of embedding specific quilt, ephemera, or other images in the text area. Future plans for the Quilt Index call for adding new essays by scholars around the world.
  •  • Exhibitions
    Under a grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, the Quilt Index began to preserve the history of exhibitions by working with exhibition curators to add the text and images that were included in original, physical exhibitions. Future plans for the Quilt Index call for adding more exhibitions.
  •  • Galleries
    Galleries feature groupings of quilts curated by Quilt Index staff, invited scholars, educators, and Michigan State University students. Each gallery explores a facet of quilt history, similar quilts, and thematic groupings and includes a brief description of the gallery’s overall theme (typically 200 words or less) and 3 – 15 quilt image records from the Index. The gallery format was initially developed as part of a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
  •  • Lesson Plans
    These consist of K-adult instructional materials built around specific quilts, groups of quilts, or collections using the Quilt Index database. In some cases, the educational materials were developed in conjunction with exhibitions or collections originally presented elsewhere, but are now also presented and preserved in the Index. Other lesson plans were intentionally made for the Quilt Index and consist of a description of the activity, materials required, target audience or grade-level, education standards or benchmarks (when identified), additional resources, and quilt image records from the Quilt Index. Future plans for the Quilt Index call for adding more lesson plans.
  •  • ​Ephemera
    Scrapbooks, correspondence, published patterns, newspaper clippings, publications, newsletters, batting wrappers, collection finding aids, and more can be sorted and filtered in a variety of ways. Future plans for the Quilt Index call for adding more ephemera.