Quilt History Project

Project staff prepare a quilt to be photographed, 1984.

The South Carolina Quilt History Project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, 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. The project documented over 3,000 quilts from all forty-six counties and many other states. Volunteers conducted interviews with owners and took photographs of each quilt.

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. Glorious 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 houses the documentary materials generated during the project. The survey forms and photographs have been digitized and will be featured in web-based applications like The Quilt Index, an online repository managed by Michigan State University.

Sample Forms from 1984 Quilt Documentation Project

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