Michigan Quilt Project

Documentation Project

  East Lansing, Michigan, United States    

Michigan State University

The Michigan Quilt Project (MQP) was established in 1984 to document, preserve, and present Michigan's quilting history. There are over 10,000 quilts documented through this continuing project.
The Michigan Quilt Project (MQP) was established in 1984 to document, preserve, and present Michigan's quilting history. Through fieldwork, archival research, and community Quilt Discovery Days, project staff work with students and community-based volunteers to locate, document, and collect information and material on Michigan quilts and quilters. Tape-recorded interviews are conducted with Michigan quilt artists in their homes and quiltmaking activities such as auctions, exhibits, guild meetings, and contests are also documented.

Like many of the other state quilt documentation projects, the Michigan Quilt Project created a documentation form that included data on the social history and physical features of the quilt as well as information about the maker of the quilt. By the late 1990s the leadership of the Michigan Quilt Project were working closely with directors of other state documentation projects to determine best strategies to preserve the thousands of records and, importantly, make them accessible for research and education. In a partnership of the Alliance for American Quilts, Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, the MSU Museum (then home of the Michigan Quilt Project), a planning grant then implementation grant was secured to text and launch the Quilt Index. The Michigan Quilt Project records served as one of the first four test collections for the development of the Quilt Index.

Several research projects have already emanated from the Michigan Quilt Project, including the Michigan African American Quilt Project, supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Detroit News Quilt History Project, supported by the Salser Family Foundation.

From 1984-2019, the project was housed in the Michigan State University Museum as part of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program. As of January 2020, the Michigan Traditional Arts Program and its community-engagement projects pertaining to statewide cultural heritage were moved to the MSU Residential College for Arts and Humanities. The physical record files are held by the MSU Library’s Special Collection and the digital files are accessible through Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. The Michigan State University Museum maintains a strong collection of Michigan quilts.
-- Marsha MacDowell, August 2020.

Michigan Quilt Project has revised its documentation form as the project has grown and matured. 
View current form:
Michigan Quilt Project form-to print.pdf

Forty Michigan museum collections are included in the MQP. Click on the name below to see their collections.
Battle Creek Historical Society
Byron Area Historical Society
Charlton Park Museum
Clinton Historical Society
Columbiaville Historical Society
Crossroads Village Museum
Dearborn Historical Museum
Detroit Historical Museum
Dr. William Hyser Rivers Museum
Flushing Area Historical Museum and Cultural Center
Fort Miami Historical Society
Frankenmuth Historical Society
Gerald Ford Museum
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Gratiot County Historical and Genealogical Society
Gulliver Historical Society
The Henry Ford
Iron County Museum
IXL Historical Museum
Kalamazoo Public Museum
Lakeshore Museum Center
Le Cheneaux Historical Museum
Leelanau County Historical Museum
Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum
Little Traverse Bay Historical Society
Marquette Regional History Center
Menominee County Museum
Michigan History Center
Michigan State University Museum
Monroe County Historical Museum
Montrose Historical and Telephone Pioneer Museum
Newton House Museum
Old Depot Museum
Onaway Historical Museum
Republic Area Historical Society
Selinsky-Green Log House Museum
Tri-County Historical Museum
Watrousville/Caro Historical Society
Wyandotte Historical Museum

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