The Oregon Quilt Project (OQP) is dedicated to documenting, collecting and preserving information about the quilts and quilt makers of Oregon, past and present. All quilts in the state are eligible to be part of the project, no matter when or where they were made. Oregon is geographically large (over 98,000 square miles) and while Portland is the cultural hub, small towns which have quilting traditions that go back many years exist in every corner of the state, and the OQP wants the project to demonstrate that diversity.

This multi-year, statewide documentation will survey all parts of Oregon with an on-going project culminating in April, 2019. At that time, the OQP will review the data collected and determine a direction for the findings.  Data collected will be added to the Quilt Index.

Although OQP began late in the cycle of state quilt projects, it has sought to build on previous experiences and establish an organizational plan to insure it can contribute to the educational value of American quilt history.

The OQP originated in 2009, led by Martha Sparks and Bill Volckening (with support and guidance from AQSG members Karen Alexander, Joan Beck , Mary Bywater Cross, Beth Donaldson, Velma Freudenthal,  and Ann Pfrender).  Martha had a connection to Ann Richardson, who was the director of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. They documented 127 quilts during the April 2010 show, and introduced the Oregon Quilt Project to the public.  At this time, contemporary quilt makers were encouraged to use the on-line website to document their quilts. 

In 2010, the leadership of the OQP changed hands, and the core group continued the work of formalizing the project with the writing of by-laws, documentation forms and a manual of operations.  They developed a training program while recruiting new board members, and established the goal of operating under a 501c3 status.  They set the objective of documenting quilts throughout the state, where information on the quilt maker/owner is gathered with respect to family, community, socio-economic, cultural influences, artistic traditions, available supplies and historical materials.  The work began of compiling complex physical data and digital images to conform with the Quilt Index’s standards of submission to the database.  The OQP also began an outreach program with quilt guilds, museums, historical societies and other organizations that promote education and appreciation for quilts as historical objects.

In 2012, with Eileen Fitzsimons added to the board, the OQP signed a working agreement with the Willamette Heritage Center, located in the historic Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem.  The name was changed from OQP Board to Committee, under the Board of Trustees of the WHC.  This provided the 501c3 umbrella.  Partnerships were also established with the Oregon Coastal Quilters in Newport, the Mid-Valley Quilt Guild in Salem, the Eugene Pioneer Quilters and the Westside Quilt Guild in Hillsboro.  Trained volunteers from these groups conduct documentations in their communities. 

There is an on-going effort to train teams of volunteers in rural communities, so that they may preserve the legacy of quilters in their area, with the option of sharing the data with the core group.  Training sessions have been held in many counties (Clackamas, Deschutes, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Sherman and Washington) to recruit volunteers for the project and also, to assist those in small towns who may not have easy access to the internet.

The OQP uses a seven page documentation form, and encourages the addition of photographs of the quilt makers and their personal stories. As we begin to enter data into the Quilt Index in 2015, continued documentation events are being planned. 
Financial support:
Due to the success of Mary Bywater Cross’ grant writing, the project has been funded by the following grants and gifts:
Oregon Heritage Commission
Quilters Guild of Dallas Helen Hibbs Endowment Fund
AQSG Lucy Hilty Research Grant
Oregon Arts Commission
NW History Network
The Willamette Heritage Center
Lane County Historical Museum
Quilt Heritage Project of Lincoln County
Washington County Museum
Portland Modern Quilt Guild
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show
Columbia Willamette Quilt Study Group
Mid-Valley Quilt Guild
NW Quilters
Oswego Quilters
Oregon Coastal Quilters
Tillamook County Quilters

--Mary Bywater Cross, 3/17/2016.

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