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South Carolina Quilt History Project

The South Carolina Quilt History Project was one of the most ambitious research projects undertaken by McKissick Museum. From 1983 to 1986, project staff conducted public “quilt sharing days” in selected locations across the state. Textile scholar and folklorist Laurel Horton served as project lead. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the project documented over 3,000 quilts from all 46 South Carolina counties and many other states. Volunteers conducted interviews with quilt owners, completed a 3-page survey form, and took photographs of each quilt. Color slides of all quilts surveyed include a full-length image and a detail image. Some quilts also have slides of the reverse side. Each survey form includes a black and white contact print. The quilt records were organized by the quilt’s place of origin, not the owner’s location/home at the time of the survey.

The project culminated in several exhibitions and publications. Social Fabric: South Carolina Traditional Quilts (1985) and Comfort and Joy: South Carolina Quilts (1986) explored how early European and African settlement patterns in South Carolina’s three distinct geographic regions – the Lowcountry, the Midlands, and the Upcountry – influenced the state’s quilting traditions. Glorified Patchwork: South Carolina Crazy Quilts (1989) explored the national “craze” of quilt design by showcasing examples of 19th century South Carolina crazy quilts.

The Folklife Resource Center at McKissick Museum houses the documentary materials generated during the project. Printed ephemera in the collection includes articles on quilting, essays by Laurel Horton, and exhibition catalogs.

South Carolina Quilt History Project Records housed: Folklife Resource Center, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina
Dates: 1983-1986 (completed)
Parameters: 46 counties, Total Quilts: 3,000 (est.)
Database: ​Project records are maintained in a MS Access database. - Authored by Saddler Taylor, Chief Curator of Folklife & Fieldwork, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, September 2020

Publications:
Horton, Laurel, and Lynn Robertson Myers. Social Fabric: South Carolina Traditional Quilts, South Carolina Quilt History Project, 1983—1985. McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina (Exhibition catalog), 1985.
Comfort and Joy: South Carolina Quilts, McKissick Museum, 1986
Glorified Patchwork: South Carolina Crazy Quilts. McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, 1989.
Mosaic Quilts: Paper Template Piecing in the South Carolina Low Country. Curious Works and The Charleston Museum, Greenville/Charleston: SC, 2002.

To view South Carolina Quilt History Project form, click here.

- Authored by Saddler Taylor, Chief Curator of Folklife & Fieldwork, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, September 2020

Eleven South Carolina museum collections are included in the Ssouth Carolina Quilt History Project.
View Anderson County Museum quilts
View Charleston Museum quilts
View Florence Museum quilts
View Historic Brattonsville Museum quilts
View Jacob Kelly House quilts
View Lexington County Museum quilts
View Marion Museum quilts
View McKissick Museum quilts
View Museum of York County quilts
View South Carolina State Museum quilts
View York County Historical Commission quilts

Project Website

View all records in this project