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W.P.A. Tulip

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QUILT INDEX RECORD

12-8-5242

Object label

W.P.A. Tulip
Minnie Benberry
Kentucky
c1930
Collection of Michigan State University Museum acc.#2008:119.3

Essay about this quilt.

Minnie Benberry was Cuesta’s mother-in-law. During the Great Depression, the government hired artists and craftspersons to make quilts as a part of the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). Cuesta discovered that a W.P.A. social worker working in rural western Kentucky gave this quilt’s tulip pattern to quilters in the region. The farm families, scattered over a wide area, were unaware that other families had received the same pattern. When the women gathered in the spring at the churchyard to quilt their tops they were surprised that they each had used the same pattern. They decided to name the pattern “W.P.A. Tulip.”

By Mary Worrall, from the exhibit Unpacking Collections: the Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, An African American Quilt Scholar.

Who documented this quilt?

Michigan Quilt Project; Michigan State University Museum Collection

Where are the records for this quilt housed?

Michigan State University Museum

Michigan Quilt Project Number

08.0063

If this quilt is owned by a museum, enter the accession number here

2008:119.3

What is the title of the quilt?

W.P.A. Tulip

Are there any stories about the quilt maker?

Cuesta's mother-in-law.

When was the form filled out?

4/22/08

Who made the quilt top?

Benberry, Minnie

Who did the quilting?

Benberry, Minnie

If you are the quilt owner, how did you acquire this quilt?

Received as a gift

State:

Kentucky (KY)

Country:

United States

Choose the time frame that best describes when the quilt was made.

1930-1949

When was the quilt finished?

c1930

How is this quilt used?

Museum collection

Choose the gender of the quilt maker(s).

Female

Where does/did the quilt maker live (country)?

United States

What is/was the ethnic or tribal background of the quilt maker?

African American

What type of quilted object is this?

Finished quilt

How wide is the quilt?

63"

How long is the quilt?

74"

What is the shape of the quilt edge?

Straight

What is the shape of the corners?

Straight

What color(s) is the quilt?

Gold; Green; Lavender; Red; White

What is the best description of the quilt's condition?

Good/moderate use

If you chose Other, please describe the damage.

Some of the pieces are coming loose from the background fabric, not unusual in raw-edge applique work. The binding is coming loose in several places. Quilt has been laundered. Hole in green border.

What is the layout (or set) of the quilt?

Block pattern

How many blocks are in the quilt?

12

What size are the blocks?

15" x 15"

How are the blocks spaced in the quilt?

Separated by sashing with cornerstones or connecting blocks

What is the width of the sashing?

1 1/2"

Enter the number of different block patterns used in the quilt.

1

How many borders are on the quilt?

2

Describe the style of the borders.

Inner: 3 1/2" green Outer 2 1/2" red

What types of fiber were used to make the quilt top?

Cotton

What types of prints were used to make the quilt top?

Solid/plain

What applique method was used to make the quilt top?

Hand Applique

What embellishments were used to make the quilt top?

Embroidery

What fibers were used to make the quilt back?

Cotton

What color is the back of the quilt?

Cream

How do you describe the quilt back?

Same fabric used throughout; Solid/plain

What fiber type was used to make the quilt binding?

Cotton

What construction technique was used to finish the edge of the quilt?

Bias grain

What is the width of the binding (front side only)?

half inch - one inch

What is the fiber content of the quilt filling?

Cotton

How are the quilt layers held together?

Hand quilting

How many quilting stitches are there per inch? Count only the stitches on the top.

4

Choose another spot on the quilt. How many quilting stitches are there per inch? Count only the stitches on the top.

7

How much space is there between quilt motifs?

1"

Describe the overall quilt design.

Elbow/fan; Outline; Single parallel lines

Describe anything about the physical appearance of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.

Each tulip is either made of purple solid cotton with a yellow petal in the center or made of red solid cotton with a purple petal in the center of the flower. Each tulip has a bud stitched on the side of the stem. Appliqued stems are 1" wide made of green solid cotton. All of the appliques are outlined in black embroidery thread in the "stem" or "outline" stitch.

Other relationship to source: If you chose Other, for the relationship to the source, describe the relationship here.

MSU Museum employee

Ownership of this quilt is:

Public- Michigan State University Museum

Quilt owner's name:

Michigan State University Museum

Quilt owner's city:

East Lansing

Quilt owner's county:

Ingham

Quilt owner's state.

Michigan (MI)

Quilt owner's country:

United States

How did the owner acquire this quilt?

Purchase

Tell the story of how the quilt was obtained.

This quilt was collected by Cuesta Benberry to further her research on quiltmaking and/or African American quiltmaking. Her son donated the collection to the Michigan State University Museum when she passed away in 2007.

Access and copyright information:

Restricted

What parts of the quilt making process did the quilt maker do?

Made entire quilt

The quilt was made to be used for:

Bedding, daily use

Describe anything about the design of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.

Mrs. Benberry noted that this quilt was one of the WPA quilts from the Great Depression era. She explained that the government hired artists and craftspersons to make quilts during that time of economic hardship. This program served two purposes: These quilts were something of use, utilitarian, yet beautiful and also gave work to talented Americans who had no other means of employment. She noted that the quilt was made by Minnie Benberry, her husband's mother (her mother-in-law). A WPA social worker came to the area of Kentucky where the Benberry's lived. "The pattern was brought to rural western Kentucky...by a WPA social worker, and given to families that wanted it. The farm families, scattered over a wide area, were unaware that other families had received the same pattern. When the women gathered in the spring at the church yard to quilt their tops..., they were surprised that each woman had the same pattern on her quilt top. They named the quilt design the 'W.P.A. Tulip' because of the social worker who gave the pattern to them."

Who photographed this quilt?

Pearl Yee Wong

Who is the copyright holder?

MSU Board of Trustees

Cite this Quilt

Benberry, Minni. W.P.A. Tulip. c1930. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project; Michigan State University Museum Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=12-8-5242. Accessed: 10/28/21

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