About the State Historical Society > News > 2009

State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release May 13, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

2,300 historical Iowa quilts added to national Quilt Index

Iowa project is one of largest included in Web-based catalog

(DES MOINES) – Images of nearly 2,300 historical quilts made by 2,100 Iowa quiltmakers have been added to The Quilt Index, a national Web-based resource catalog of quilts, textiles and other information.

The Iowa Quilts Research Project – maintained by the State Historical Society of Iowa – is the eighth state or regional documentation project added to The Quilt Index, and one of the largest. The Iowa quilts bring the total number of quilt records available at the online archive to more than 21,000, including quilts from museums and private collections.

“Having our images and information included on The Quilt Index extends our outreach to everyone from scholars and quiltmakers all around the world,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “Our images cover many familiar patterns like Drunkard’s Path, Log Cabin and Irish Chain, and include our treasured Mary Barton collection.”

The Quilt Index is run by the Alliance for American Quilts and Michigan State University, and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It can be found on-line at www.quiltindex.org.

The Quilt Index is a central resource that incorporates a wide variety of sources and information on quilts, quiltmakers and quiltmaking, including:

  • images and information on privately held quilts compiled by state and regional quilt documentation projects in the United States and internationally
  • images and information on quilts in museums, libraries, and private collections
  • images and information on quilt-related ephemera
  • lesson plans, online exhibits, journals and essays
  • bibliographies of secondary materials relevant to quilt study
  • research assistance for locating hard-to-find quilt-related primary and secondary materials in public collections.

The Iowa Quilt Research Project was established in September 1987 to seek out and register Iowa quilts made prior to 1925 and record their history and makers. More than 500 volunteers staffed Quilt Discovery Days in 13 regions around the state.

While recording information about cultural, historical and ethnic influences on quiltmaking in Iowa, the Iowa Quilt Research Project increased awareness of the value of quilts and encouraged quilt preservation. The resulting body of information was presented to SHSI in 1990 for preservation and to make it accessible to a wider audience. 

An inductee into The Quilters Hall of Fame, Mary Barton of Ames, Iowa, is recognized as one of the first to document finished quilts and the methods, manners and social mores of mid-19th century quiltmakers.

Her desire to collect, understand and share has resulted in one of the most comprehensive collections of quilts, quilt blocks, fabric swatches, magazines, fashion plates and costumes ever assembled and donated to public institutions.

Nearly 200 textiles from her collection are recorded in The Quilt Index, including her own Heritage Quilt, which was exhibited at the 1999 International Quilt Festival in the “Quilt Show of the Century.”


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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