W.P.A. Tulip





Object label

W.P.A. Tulip
Minnie Benberry
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:


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


Quilt's title:

W.P.A. Tulip

Biography of the quiltmaker?

Cuesta's mother-in-law.

When was the form filled out?


Quilt top made by:

Benberry, Minnie

Quilted by:

Benberry, Minnie

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

Received as a gift

Where the quilt was made, state:

Kentucky (KY)

Where the quilt was made, country:

United States

Time period:


When was the quilt finished?


Quilt is presently used as:

Museum collection

Quiltmaker's gender:


Quiltmaker's country:

United States

Quiltmaker's ethnic background/tribal affiliation:

African American

This is a:

Finished quilt

How wide is the quilt?


How long is the quilt?


Shape of edge:


Describe the corners of the quilt:


What color(s) is the quilt?

Gold; Green; Lavender; Red; White

Quilt's condition:

Good/moderate use

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.

Describe the quilt's layout:

Block pattern

Number of quilt blocks:


Size of quilt blocks:

15" x 15"

Spacing of quilt blocks:

Separated by sashing with cornerstones or connecting blocks

Sashing width:

1 1/2"

Number of different block patterns used in the quilt:


Number of borders:


Border description:

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

Fiber type(s) used to make the quilt top:


Fabric styles used in the quilt top:


Applique techniques used to make the quilt top:

Hand Applique

Embellishment techniques used to make the quilt top:


Materials used to make the back:


What color is the back of the quilt?


Describe the back:

Same fabric used throughout; Solid/plain

Materials used in the quilt binding:


How is the binding made?

Bias grain

What is the width of the binding (measure on the top only)?

half inch - one inch

What kind of filling is used in the quilt?


Quilting techniques used:

Hand quilting

Number of quilting stitches per inch, place 1:


Number of quilting stitches per inch, place 2:


Width between quilting lines (in inches):


Quilting designs used, overall motifs:

Elbow/fan; Outline; Single parallel lines

Features or notes about the quilt's appearance, materials, or construction:

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.

Source of the information on this quilt:

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:


Quilt owner's state:

Michigan (MI)

Quilt owner's country:

United States

How was this quilt acquired?


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:


How did the quiltmaker participate in the creation of the quilt?

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 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

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, Accessed: 08/15/22