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Collection Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978 to 1996

About this Collection

Contains 181 segments from recorded interviews with quiltmakers and 410 graphic images (prints, positive transparencies, and negatives) from two collections in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress: the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/00) and the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest Collection (AFC 1997/011). The images of the quilts convey the range of contemporary quiltmaking styles in the United States, while the recorded interview segments provide information on the quiltmakers and their work within the context of their lives and region and a more in-depth portrait of quiltmaking in daily life.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project was a field project conducted in 1978 by the American Folklife Center, in partnership with the National Park Service. The area included a seventy-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Virginia and North Carolina border. Among the many cultural traditions documented in this collection was the late-twentieth-century quiltmaking revival. Photographs and brief interview segments for the online presentation were chosen from the collection by the project's consultant, Laurel Horton. She selected six individuals who represent a cross-section of the quiltmakers in the region at the time of the project and selected photographs and narratives about both historic and newly made quilts. The quilts selected represent a range of functional types, including utility bedquilts, elaborate special quilts, and those made to sell at craft shops and flea markets. As a result, the interviews and visual images demonstrate both continuing local traditions and the influence of the national quilt revival.

The Lands' End collection provides a different but complementary window into late-twentieth century quiltmaking. This online presentation documents the 181 state and national winners of contests sponsored by the company in 1992, 1994, and 1996, and reflects a sampling of excellent design and technical skill characteristic of prizewinning quilts during this period. This collection includes a large number of quilt images from across the country and statements provided by the makers in surveys about their quilts. The Lands' End contest winners represent a wide range of quiltmaking activity, from highly traditional to innovative. Numerous types and styles of needlework, quilting, piecework, applique, and embroidery are represented.

Additional materials from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection and the Lands' End collection are available to researchers in the Folklife Reading Room. The Blue Ridge collection contains 13 linear feet including nearly 500 audio and video recordings and more than 25,000 photographs, plus publications, ephemera, and accompanying manuscript materials. The Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest Collection was donated to the American Folklife Center by Lands' End in 1997 and contains 61.5 linear feet of material, including approximately 18,843 visual images and 60,716 manuscripts.