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

Written for and presented at the American Quilt Study Group, October 2005.
Updated 2006, Additional Online and Print Resources added May 2007.

Over 20 pages, filled with useful information for the novice or experienced researcher in the field of quilt history. The references and examples given are specific to this field, but the descriptions of doing scholarly research and critical thinking apply to many of the social sciences and would be very helpful to researchers researching other textiles, women and social history topics. This report will benefit college students, too. Abstract and Table of Contents follow the comments below.

How to order

Comments from Users

--- Review by Elizabeth Davis, Author and Quilt Historian

“'Threading Your Research Needle' offers guidance on finding a research topic, on locating and analyzing relevant information on the chosen subject. Kimberly steps through the process that leads the novice researcher on a comprehensible path to follow in this exciting search.

You want to read this e-report before starting your next project, whether it is for a quilt study group discussion, museum or state textile documentation project, writing a professional paper with the intention of publication or just to research a particular subject for your own knowledge and interests!!

One of the most important suggestions made by Kimberly is ‘Assume Nothing.’ Two simple words, which encourages people to question established thinking and make wonderful discoveries. Wise advice that can be heeded by
historians and teachers, by writers, and by quilters alike!!!”

--- From Charlotte Bull, quilt history researcher, writer, speaker and teacher:

"Threading Your Research Needle" is a clever and amusing title, but this booklet is not just a humorous essay. It is a serious, well written, and useful e-book that can help anyone understand how to properly carry out research on quilts and textiles. You can also learn how to use this information in a written format for publication.

Not only is the information in this booklet on how to research and write instructional, but it is also an excellent source for articles, books and web sites on our mutually favorite topic of quilts, textiles and their history. There is also a very good list of resources if you are interested in doing some family genealogy searching. It would also instruct an older child in how to improve their term papers in school.

So order the booklet and let it encourage you to become a writer, whether it is for a guild newsletter, a local newspaper, a magazine editor, a book publisher or just your family memoirs. And, if nothing else, you will gain a tremendous respect and appreciation of the work of the authors who have written the articles and books that you yourself enjoy reading.”

--- From Alice Kinsler, graduate student at U of Nebraska at Lincoln, textiles department:

“Dr. Wulfert’s presentation of what constitutes scholarly research, and the methods to achieve it are very useful for anyone involved in quilt history research, as well as any other research topic. Her outlines of the various research methods are most helpful, and of particular assistance, is the discussion on the process of choosing and developing a topic for study.”

--- From Cathy Gregory, a student in the Cities and Guild textile studies program:
         “I found your study guide to be thorough.

--- From Sue Wildemuth

         "It does not matter where you are on the quilt history path, quilt history enthusiasts and historians will benefit from reading Kim Wulfert’s e-report “Threading Your Research Needle.” This well researched and thought provoking piece of work delves into research methods for quilt and textile researchers. If you are interested in a step by step approach to researching a signature quilt (my personal favorite) or a family quilt then this is the report for you."      

--- From Helene Kusnitz, Quilt Artist, Quilt Repair and Restoration, West Hempstead, NY

"I think it is a thorough guide for both the novice and experienced researcher. With this guide I feel more confident in getting started on a project and it will help keep me on course in writing an article or paper in the future."

---- From Rose Marie Werner

I reread your research guide. It's good to reread it at different stages of the research project. I found it helpful in making my research on quilt kits a more "serious" document. I am broadening my reading around the topic and thinking about other credible sources to cite. There are lots of good tips for writing a quality document. I found it very helpful.

---- From Diane Weeden

"It's a great document and I am sure will be very useful as I begin my more in-depth investigation into antique quilts. As part of the South Sound Quilt Study Group (Olympia, Wa) I am going on a field trip next Wednesday to our state museum's research center. That is the repository for all of the quilts held by the state's public museums. I hope to have my "aha" moment and discover my area of intense interest and then proceed with your suggestions regarding research. Thanks for your help." 

Abstract of: "Threading Your Research Needle"

A few changes have been added to this report since it was presented at AQSG, for the sole purpose of clarifying it to the reader who does not have the benefit of class discussion and other examples given.

ABSTRACT: This report describes the elements of scholarly quilt research, to make it more approachable for candidates without background or training in research methodology to draw upon. Fleming’s Material Culture" method and the historian’s “Intuitive method” are summarized and compared with traditional social science methods used to studying quilt history. The traditional sequence for the written presentation of a social science research paper is described.

Credible research and analysis has a foundation based in large part upon the sources used and interpretations made from them. Determining the value and credibility of primary and secondary sources is a critical function for the researcher. This aspect is described in great detail, with five major points to consider; examples and resources for further reading are given.

A list of previous Uncoverings journal papers provide examples of nine frameworks I have identified , which you can use to formulate your research topic and purpose statement. With this clearly in view, the path is easier to navigate as you proceed with the research process and writing. Those who do not have access to the Journal will still find the framework categories listed helpful. To read the journal papers, contact a university library or your local library for an inter-library loan.

The second part focuses on the process of finding your precise topic, researching and writing the paper. It is not about the content, as the first part is. It elucidates and describes 9 steps, from starting with no topic, just an area of interest, and takes you through the process to the finish. Finally, many general research references, both online and in print, are listed including genealogical Websites. How to use the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s online library search is included.

Table of Contents


- Introduction
- Documentation Projects as Groundwork for Research
- Material-Culture Research
- Intuitive research compared to the social sciences method

Social Science Research -- the Written Format
- Framing Your Topic of Study
- Five Key Research Considerations

9 Steps for Getting Started and Finishing 

Resources for research
- In print
- Online
- Indexed Sources
- Online Resources for Genealogy

$10.00      How to order


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© 2005 - 2016 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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