Name a disease or illness and you will find at least one quilt related to this disease that has been made in support of personal well-being, health education, patient advocacy, memorialization of victims, and/or fundraising. For some diseases you will find not just one quilt but literally thousands as in the case of the NAMES AIDS Memorial Quilt Project. Collectively, the number of quilts made and used by individuals, their caregivers and advocates, and by health professionals around the world is in the hundreds of thousands. The number of quilts is staggering.

The Michigan State University Museum and the MSU College of Human Medicine initiated a Quilts and Health Project to document images and stories of quilts related to health and well-being. The initiation of this project was funded in 2014 by a grant from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. As funding and staffing become available, this project will facilitate the documentation of quilts related to specific and general illnesses and health conditions and the incorporation of this data into the Quilt Index. The project also aims to provide Quilt Index tools that will facilitate the use of documented quilts for education and research.

If you would like to add a quilt to this project, you can find the forms here. The form has two options, one is to print (if you prefer documenting with paper and pencil). The other form is for folks who like to use their computer to document (-to fill). Remember to send nice pictures of your creations when you send the form.
Quilts and Health form-to print.pdf
Quilts and Health form-to fill.pdf
Quilts and Health Blog
This blog is a first step in building a community of individuals who make, use, and study health-related quilts.
Quilts and Health Facebook
NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

The NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt (sometimes referred to as The Quilt) is the world’s largest art and health project. Each of its 48,000 plus panels honors or memorializes an individual who died of the disease; each panel reflects the work of an individual who was mourning a loved one or saw the quilt as a means to educate others about AIDS or advocate for more research on AIDS.
The year 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of The AIDS Memorial Quilt and 30 years of life with AIDS. To mark that anniversary and to call attention to the ongoing need for research and education about AIDS, the NAMES Project Foundation teamed with the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to feature a program called "Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt” at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With The AIDS Memorial Quilt as the anchor and through craft demonstrations, dance and musical performances, interactive discussions, and other activities, this program commemorated the innovative and resourceful ways through which communities have endeavored to educate people and to cope with one of the most complex pandemics in modern history.  
In 2012 researchers and educators at New School (NYC), University of Iowa (UI), and the NAMES Project Foundation also developed a first generation free APP ( to create more access to and interaction with the stories and images of each of the panels in The Quilt. The APP was tested with visitors at the festival.
In 2014, MSU (Museum, College of Human Medicine, and MATRIX) joined New School, IU, and the NAMES Foundation in "AIDS Quilt Touch: A Distributed Digital Archive Platform for Digital Storytelling, Citizen Archiving, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage”, a project funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitally preserve and increase global access to images and stories of The Quilt through the Quilt Index. The effort also aims to create innovative digital tools to deepen the use of the quilt in raising awareness of the disease and connecting individuals to sources of information about AIDS. At MSU, under the direction of Drs. Dean Rehberger (Matrix), Marsha MacDowell (MSUM), and Clare Luz (CHM) and with the assistance of Beth Donaldson and Alicia Sheill, the digital images of each block is being digitally unstitched and each panel is being entered into the Quilt Index and the usability of the Index for medical professionals has been tested in workshops with CHM residents. Currently the Quilt Index has documented 800 of the panels, which can be viewed here.

--Marsha MacDowell, 8/7/2014.

View all records in this project