Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project

University of Rhode Island - Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project

URI-TMD website

The Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project (RIQDP) held its organizational meeting on December 19, 1990 at the University of Rhode Island. Spearheaded by faculty and staff in the Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design Department, the project surveyed quilts in public and private collections made and/or used in Rhode Island before 1949. Because Rhode Island is the birthplace of the American textile industry, the project focused on production and consumption of fabrics found in quilts.

RIQDP had three phases. Phase I consisted of registering, examining, and photographing quilts. Phase II involved exhibitions at museums and historical societies and through other educational forums. Phase III included presentation and publication of the project's findings through lectures, articles, and the book Down by the Old Mill Stream: Quilts in Rhode Island co-edited by Linda Welters and Margaret Ordoñez (Kent State University Press, 2000). The book is currently out of print.

RIQDP held sixteen public documentation days from 1992 to 1997. Quilts in eighteen textile collections housed in art museums, historical societies, and historical houses were examined. Trained volunteers and URI students assisted in documenting the quilts. The project's archives are housed in the Special Collections Department of the URI Library where they are accessible to interested parties.

All phases of the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project received grant support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.


"Selections from the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project" at Quilt Market, Boston, Massachusetts, May 22-24, 1993.

"The First Five Years: New England Documents Its Quilts" at New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, Massachusetts, October 2-November 11, 1993.

"Stitches in Time: Rhode Island Quilts" at the Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, Rhode Island, February 3-June 30, 1994.

"Nineteenth-Century Patchwork in Rhode Island" at the Vermont Quilt Festival, Northfield, Vermont, July 8-10, 1994.

"Pieced and Patched: Rhode Island Quilts and the Textile Industry" at Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, September 15-December 20, 1994.

"Selections from the Permanent Collection" at Smith's Castle, Wickford, Rhode Island, June 17-18, 1995.

"Home from the Mill: French-Canadian Quiltmakers in Rhode Island" at Musée Marsil, Saint-Lambert, Quebec, May 8-August 25, 1996; Musée Beaulne, Coaticook, Quebec, October 23-December 18, 1996; Slater Mill Historic Site, March 1-June 1, 1997.

Project Personnel
Linda Welters, Director
Margaret Ordoñez, Quilt Examination
Catherine Cerny, Quilt and Quiltmaker History
Alda Kaye, Volunteers and Documentation Sites

Project description provided by the Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project.

The Rhode Island Quilt Documentation Project includes collections from these museums:
Babcock-Smith House Museum Collection
Block Island Historical Society Collection
Cranston Historical Society Collection
Little Compton Historical Society Collection
Newport Historical Society Collection
Rhode Island Historical Society Collection
South County Museum Collection
Warwick Historical Society Collection
Watson House Museum Collection
Westerly Historical Society Collection

Project Website

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