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New Pathways into Quilt History written by Kimberly Wulfert, www.antiquequiltdating.com

Getting to Know Today's Quilt Historians

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These brief interviews of America's leaders in quilt history show us creativity in action as well as educate us about the opportunities available today within the broad field of quilt history.

"One of the wonderful elements of humanity is the way that we help each other. We all learn and grow by following the examples of other people. Just about anyone who has had significant success of any kind will point to the mentors in their journey; people who have inspired them by example, and shared valuable information that has made a significant difference. When we don't have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, we can invent so many other wonderful things…and that is exactly what the spirit of mentoring allows."   Orna Ross


Have you ever wondered how you could participate, work or volunteer in the field of quilt history? Do you know about the various the career paths quilt historians walk or create themselves? There are some you may know and others you have never thought of before. Learn what those in the field today have to say.

I've interviewed women and one man so far, who have made wide strides and big advances in this burgeoning field that I would say began shortly after the 20th century quilt revival which occurred around the Bi-centennial in 1976.

It began without any announcement, it grew silently as individual women formed organizations, clubs and did their own research into the women who came before them. Then magazine articles, books, presentations, workshops, exhibits, tours, websites and conferences began to get the information and knowledge out to the general public. The demand for more research into the past developed and well, the rest is history.

Today quilt history is a broad and recognized field of professional and personal study and enjoyment. Thanks to quilt historians, the woman's place in American history as well as around the globe is being described and admired.

My interviews show creativity in action as well as educate us about the broad field of quilt history. Click on the historian's listed below to find out what they have done and are doing in the field, their pet projects, what they still want to do, and what or who inspired or mentored them along the way. I love learning the personal path a woman takes, the choices she makes and why, in order to accomplish what she has. For many it's their passion for fabric or quilts or women's history. For others it's a mentor or curiosity driving them. One thing leads to another and their dreams become larger and wider, and so can yours.


Karen B. Alexander - Quilt Historian
"Seeing and observing crafts in some 19 countries before the age of 20 left its mark. I became especially interested in quilts as a vehicle of family history thanks to my mother-in-law, Wini Waters Alexander."
- added 1/11


Dana Balsamo - Quilt Historian "I had started quilting in 1994 and immediately my tastes turned toward the Depression Era reproduction fabrics and traditional patterns ..."

Lynne Bassett - Textile and Costume Historian “It goes back so far I hardly know when it began. My first opportunity to study historic textiles came in 1983, when I was a summer fellow at Historic Deerfield ..." - updated 1/11

Judy Breneman - Quilt History Educator "I write articles for websites that introduce people to the fascinating topic of quilt history. In the process I've discovered that quilt history is a window into the lives of the ordinary women of our past."
- added 1/11

Meg Cox - Quilt Journalist "I’m an author/journalist who happens to think the current quilt boom is an absolute barn-burner of a good story. I love to give quilters a deeper understanding of the amazing state of the quilt world, and serve as an ambassador to the non-quilting world via lectures and articles.

Mary Bywater Cross - Quilt Historian "After my grandmother Harriet Smith McNeill introduced me to quilts through the small family collection she inherited, my interest was whetted ..."

Hazel Carter - Appraiser, Author, Curat
or, and Founder of The Quilters Hall of Fame "Serious study began in Vienna, VA, in 1972 when I read a 1970 article in Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine, about a 1708 English made patchwork quilt with bed hangings and curtains." - updated 1/11

Richard Cleveland - "Quilt Bureaucrat" Richard Cleveland, Founder of the Vermont Quilt Festival calls himself a 'quilt bureaucrat' in this lively interview.

Anne Copeland - Curator, Quilt Historian, Certified Quilt Appraiser, Quilt Repair & Restoration Teacher, Lecturer, Author, Director of Fiberarts Connection
"I have a degree in Archaeology, and I have always been interested in history's mysteries. ..."

Carol Ely, PhD - Museum Educator and Exhibit Developer “I'm a historian - not really a textile historian, but a social historian - I study the people who made and used textiles and the context of their lives in American history."

Mary Elizabeth Johnson - Author, Editor, and Researcher in the Home Sewing and Quilt Fields "I'm a writer and editor who started my career in the field of home sewing, working with such companies as Simplicity, Coats & Clark, and Singer in New York City ..." - updated 1/11

Bunnie Jordan - Quilter, Quilt Appraiser and Historian "Having the book, Quilts of Virginia, published was very satisfying. This was the result of the state documentation project begun in the 1980s, ..." - added 1/11

Pat L. Nickols - Quilt & Fabric Historian "It all began in Columbia, MO in 1977 when I took my first class in quilting ...


Froncie Quinn - Museum Licensed Pattern Writer for the Shelburne Museum, Old Sturbridge Village Museum, Vermont Quilt Festival Collection

Bill Volckening - Quilt Magnet “Quilt magnet: collector, writer, blogger, photographer, and budding historian.”

Rose Marie (Rosie) Werner - Researcher, Author, Quilt collector, Quilt maker
"I have a subscription website which gives access to my documentation of over 3,000 20th Century quilt kits and the companies and designers that produced them.

Susan Wildemuth - Quilt Maker, Quilt History Writer and Researcher 
"I consider myself a writer, and researcher in quilt history. I love the journey of uncovering new information. I am also venturing into the art quilt arena ..."
- added 1/11


Julia D. Zgliniec - Appraiser and Quilting Instructor "I use the title Appraiser because this is currently my main activity. I also enjoy teaching others about quilts, textile history, and appraisal."


* Women (and Men) at Work

© 2005 - 2012 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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