The Quilt Index Puts History at Your Fingertips

Quilters in the Pendroy Post Office
photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota

Ever dreamed of being able to browse through thousands of images of quilts spanning the generations? The Quilt Index is a tool that puts that in your hands.

Launched in 2002 by the University of Michigan with financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Quilt Index is “an open access, digital repository of thousands of images, stories and information about quilts and their makers drawn from hundreds of public and private collections around the world. It represents the work of thousands of community-based and independent scholars, digital humanists, and professionals in libraries, archives, and museums who are dedicated to preserving and making accessible quilt history.”

Besides an immense browsable database of images and data about the quilts included in the project, the website at also includes essays on quilt related topics, stories about the quilts included in the database, curated online galleries to show quilts that illustrated a specific time period, technique, artist or themes, and lesson plans for teachers on how to use quilts as part of classroom experience. Another unexpected feature is an online collection of ephemera which include scrapbooks, correspondence, published patterns, newspaper clippings, publications, newsletters, and batting wrappers.

The Quilt Index provides a mechanism to add your own quilts to the database. Whether it’s a quilt you made yesterday or one you’ve inherited, you can add your quilts to the storehouse. Download The Quilt Index Public Submission Form and fill it in with information you can take time to gather, then type your answers into the online Quilt Index Public Submission Portal and upload it with good quality photos of the quilt. This is a free service offered to quilters although a free will donation is always welcome.