Iowa Quilt Research Project

Iowa Quilt Research Project
Established in 1987 to register and photograph pre-1925 quilts, the Iowa Quilt Research Project documented over 2500 quilts in a little over 2 years.  As with other Quilt Documentation Projects, the Iowa collection of data provides another aspect of quilt research, one based on local considerations but with national overtones.  Opened for settlement in 1838 and achieving statehood in 1846, Iowa has been a destination for generations of immigrants.  The documentation collected by the IQRP provides insight into the every-day lives of the people, particularly women, who settled into this state.  Each quilt in the Project represents a starting point for research into immigration, settlement, and important life passages such as marriage, birth and death.  Each quilt represents a family who chose to spend time in Iowa.

The stories of how these quilts moved in and out of Iowa illustrates the highly mobile nature of middle-to-late 19th and early 20th century culture.  This documentation provides insight into the lives of local and regional women, an often unexplored avenue for historical inquiry.  The quilts registered in the IQRP are points of reference in telling the life stories of the women who made the quilts, cared for them, moved them and ultimately passed the quilts on.

The Mary A. Barton Collection includes, in part:

  • • 26 finished quilts;
  • • 32 quilt tops;
  • • 111 panels (fabric motifs and blocks taken from unstable quilts and basted to panels of muslin.  These panels were used to show pattern and fabric choices, and how use affects fabrics);
  • • 134 loose quilt blocks;
  • • 15 notebooks of quilt blocks and fabric swatches;
  • • 30 shoeboxes of annotated fabric samples;
  • • 1000+ books and periodicals 1850-1980 relating to quilting, home arts, needlecraft, and fashion.
    View the Mary Barton Collection here
Thirteen Iowa museum collections are included in Iowa Quilt Research Project. Click on the name below to see their collections.
Adair County Heritage Center Museum
Center Point Historical Society
Crawford County Historical Society
Decatur Historical Society
Franklin County Historical Society
Gowrie Historical Society
Liberty Hall Historical Center
Shenandoah Historical Museum
Mary Barton Collection
Taylor County Museum
Union County Historical Society
Walnut Creek Historical Society
Warren Historical Society

Credits and Acknowledgements
State Historical Society of Iowa Work Team:
Project Manager: Jodi Evans, Museum Registrar
Digitization: Kelley Rouchka, Sarah Carlson
Data Entry: Linda Mould

Thanks and Acknowledgements: The volunteers for the Iowa Quilt Research Project; staff and volunteers at the Grout Museum of History and Science (Waterloo, Iowa); Des Moines Area Quilters Guild; Friends and family of Mary A. Barton.

Funding: the Mary A. Barton Collection and the Iowa Quilt Research Project of the State Historical Society of Iowa were added to the Quilt Index through funding from NEH.

Project description provided by the Iowa Quilt Research Project.

Project Website

View all records in this project