HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Quilt Documentation Project is seeking to record the history of quilts made in, or currently residing in, West Virginia with a series of “documentation days,” beginning in April in Huntington and continuing in June at the West Virginia Quilt Festival in Summersville.
The “documentation days” are part of an ongoing effort to record West Virginia’s quilt artistry and history, and to create a record for future historians and researchers. The focus of the project, the second of its kind in West Virginia, is quilts made prior to 1970.
“We enjoy quilts because of the many beautiful fabrics sewn together to put on a bed or cover up to keep warm,” said Fran Kordek, coordinator of the West Virginia Quilt Documentation Project. “They perform that service very well, but they also tell stories about their makers and can reveal important information about culture, history, politics, social events, migration patterns, and economic trends. It is important that we properly document, care for, and preserve these fabrics of our lives.”
An extensive quilt documentation effort will occur June 23-25 during the West Virginia Quilt Festival in Summersville. Those who own quilts made in West Virginia or quilts that might have been made elsewhere and now reside in West Virginia are encouraged to call and make an appointment to have their quilts documented. Each person is allowed to bring two quilts to be documented, but an appointment is needed.
There is no charge for bringing the quilts and Kordek emphasizes that the quilts should be brought “as is.”
“Sometimes people think they need to clean their quilts first or mend them because they have been stored away in an attic or are well-used,” Kordek said. “This is not something we encourage as it could alter the quilt in some way or even harm the fabrics, if they are fragile. We are interested in having the quilts photographed and examined, and to record any history or documentation related to the quilts.”
Family photos, especially those showing the quilt and quilt maker, and details about the quilt maker such as birth date, death date, maiden and married names, and religion or ethnic background, are especially helpful. Details about the quilt, such as whether it was made for a special occasion or whether it won a ribbon at a fair, also are useful.
Records and information about the quilts will be stored in the archives managed by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston. Photographs of the quilts and related information also will be added to a national online database for scholars and educators. Personal information about the quilt owners, however, will be kept confidential.
Quilt documentation will occur at the West Virginia Quilt Festival in Summersville June 23-25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The Huntington quilt documentation day is April 23, 9 a.m. to noon, and another is scheduled October 15, 9 a.m. to noon at Canaan Valley State Park.
People interested in having their quilt documented can make an appointment with Fran Kordek either by email or by calling ([email protected] or 304-636-7973). Groups interested in holding a quilt documentation event at their locations also can contact Kordek.
The West Virginia Quilt Documentation Project is conducted by volunteers. Those who want to volunteer can contact Linda Vaughan ([email protected]).
For more information about upcoming quilt documentation dates, please visit the West Virginia Quilters, Inc., website at wvquilters.org.
The West Virginia Quilt Documentation Project is sponsored by West Virginia Quilters, Inc., in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. This program is presented with support from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.