Hawaiian Quilt Research Project

The Hawaiian Quilt Research Project (HQRP) documented pre-statehood (pre-1959) Hawaiian quilts and patterns from both private and public collections. Over 1,200 quilts and 1,500 patterns were registered and photographed on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu between 1990 and 2003. More than 600 are publicly available on the Quilt Index.  The remaining records are currently closed as work begins in preparation for writing and publishing a comprehensive history of Hawaii's unique quilting heritage.

In addition to quilts documented from private individuals, the following Hawaiian Museums and formal quilt collections are represented in the HQRP:
Bishop Museum Collection
Maunakea Beach Hotel Collection
Brigham Young University Hawaii Collection Daughters of Hawaii Collection
Grove Farm Museum Collection
Hawaii's Plantation Village Collection
Honolulu Academy of Arts Collection
Kaanapali Beach Hotel Collection
Kauai Historical Society Collection
Kauai Museum Collection
Lyman House Memorial Museum Collection
Mission Houses Museum Collection
Monterey History & Art Association Collection
Parker Ranch Museum Collection
Parker Ranch Historic Homes Collection
The St. Regis Princeville Resort Collection
Washington Place Collection
Weston Maui Resort & Spa Collection

As HQRP data and images reveal, Hawaiian quilters evolved a unique quilt style combining Polynesian cultural sensibilities with western design ideas. Best known are the vibrantly colored, boldly graphic designs of Hawaiian applique and flag quilts that have come to define what is a Hawaiian quilt. Other styles, such as crazy quilts and Redwork (outline embroidered designs worked in red cotton thread), were relatively short-lived while patchwork quilts continued to be made.

Origins of the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project
Elizabeth A. Akana and Elaine Zinn founded the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project in 1990 under the auspices of the Kalihi-Palama Culture and Arts Society, a non-profit organization in Honolulu, Hawaii. HQRP achieved independent non-profit status in 1995. HQRP was among the first quilt projects across the nation to begin computerizing collected data. Complete text and graphics database records are maintained for all registered quilts and patterns. Registration forms, slides, negatives, patterns, and related ephemera have been housed in archival materials in preparation to donating the collection to a publically accessible archive. Data collection on the history of quilting in Hawaii continues.

Credits and Acknowledgements
Volunteers spent countless hours helping with the registration process during publicly advertised Quilt Days, including members of:
Kapolei Hawaiian Civic Club
Pearl Harbor Hawaiian Civic Club
Hawaii Quilt Guild
Hawaii Stitchery and Fibre Arts Guild
Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea (Waimea Hawaiian Quilting Club)

Special recognition is given to professional photographer, Albert H. Y. Chang (1928-2008) who volunteered his time and expertise in photo documenting both quilts and patterns, and never missed a Quilt Day. He also donated his copyrights for the photographs to HQRP.

HQRP registered quilts and quiltmakers have been the focus of a number of Hawaiian quilt exhibitions at the Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu. Topics ranged from the history of Hawaiian outline-embroidered (Redwork) quilts to the richly diverse interpretations of breadfruit (ulu) designs. Other exhibitions showcased the work of particular quilters such as the Houghtailing sisters (early twentieth century) and contemporary quilter, Margo Armitage Morgan.

Publications with HQRP Findings
Brandon, Reiko M., and Loretta G.H. Woodard. Hawaiian Quilts: Tradition and Transition. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2004.
Hackler, Rhoda E.A., and Loretta G.H. Woodard. The Queen's Quilt. Honolulu: Iolani Palace, 2004.
Woodard, Loretta G.H. "Communities of Quilters: Hawaiian Pattern Collecting, 1900-1959." In Uncoverings, ed. Joanna E. Evans. Lincoln, NE: American Quilt Study Group, 2006.
______. "Quilts." In Finding Paradise: Island Art in Private Collections, eds. Don Severson and Mike Horikawa. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts and University of Hawai`i Press, 2003.
______. "The Houghtailing Family and Their Hawaiian Quilts," Blanket Statements (Spring 2000), American Quilt Study Group, 1, 3-4.
______. "Hawaiian Outline-Embroidered Quilts." In Uncoverings, ed. Virginia Gunn. San Francisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1997.

Project description provided by the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project.

View all records in this project