American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has been a long time consultant during the development of the Quilt Index. Quilts and images from the Center's online presentation Quilts and Quiltmaking in America are now indexed on the Quilt Index.

The American Folklife Center is the national center for folklife documentation and research. Created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife," the Center incorporates an archive, which was established at the Library of Congress in 1928 as a repository for American folk music. Folklife is an integral part of American life, and thus an essential part of the country's national library. The story of America is reflected in the cultural productions that are part of the everyday lives of ordinary people, from cooking and eating meals, to the activities of work and play, to religious observances and seasonal celebrations. Folklife includes all of these activities, as well as the songs we sing, the stories we tell, and the crafts we make.

Today, the Center boasts over 4,000 collections, which embody the very heart and soul of our national traditional life, as well as the cultural life of communities from many regions of the world. The collections in the Center's archive include folk cultural material from all fifty states, as well as United States trusts, territories, and the District of Columbia. In addition, the Center and its collections have grown to encompass many aspects of folklore and folklife from around the world.

The quilts showcased here are drawn from two American Folklife Center archival collections, the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (1978) and the "All-American Quilt Contest" (1992-1996) sponsored by Coming Home, a division of Lands' End, and Good Housekeeping. A web-based presentation, Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, produced by the American Folklife Center, presents additional information drawn from these projects as well as interpretive essays. Together these collections provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions. The quilt documentation from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project, an ethnographic field project conducted by the American Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service, includes 229 photographs and 181 recorded interviews with six quiltmakers in Appalachian North Carolina and Virginia. These materials document quilts and quilting within the context of daily life and reflect a range of backgrounds, motivations, and aesthetic sensibilities. The materials presented from the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest collection include images of approximately 180 winning quilts from across the United States. The collection represents a wide range of quiltmaking, from highly traditional to innovative, and the quilts pictured exhibit excellent design and technical skill in a variety of styles and materials.

The American Folklife Center has partnered on other digitization, archival, memory, and oral history projects with the Michigan State University Museum and MATRIX:Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, and the Alliance for American Quilts. A partnership with the Alliance is preserving the hundreds of Quilters -- Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.) interviews and transcripts at the Folklife Center, where they are archived and available for research.

Credits and Acknowledgements:

LOC Work Team:
Project manager(s): Thea Austen, Stephanie Hall, Alan Jabbour, Nora Yeh
Fieldworkers: Geraldine N. Johnson, and Terry and Lyntha Eiler
Digitization: Thomas Brammel, Carl Fleischhauer, Andrea Greenwood, Christa Maher, Cynthia Zujko Miller
Data entry: Mary Ambrosio, Laurel Horton, Michelle Forner
Project consultants: Emily Lind Baker, James Hardin, Jurretta Jordan Heckscher, Melissa Smith Levine, Phil Michel, Carol Moran, Danna Bell-Russell
Quilt history consultant and essay author: Laurel Horton

Thanks and Acknowledgments: JJT Inc., Lands' End Inc., and National Park Service

Funding: Archival images and data on quilts from project documentation in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress were indexed in the Quilt Index through funding from IMLS.

Project description provided by the American Folklife Center.

Project Website

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