Quilters Save Our Stories

The South Central Michigan Q.S.O.S is an oral history project under the umbrella of The Alliance for American Quilts.  Quilters’ interviews are concerned with design and construction techniques and the community in which the quilter works. Oral history is a narrative of a remembered past. Oral history records the living memories and feelings of people and creates a more vivid picture of our past. It is exciting because it is interactive. It is history shared.  Q.S.O.S. is attempting to build on the techniques of oral histories to pursue conversations about quilt making today.

The Q.S.O.S. project’s goal is to create a broadly accessible body of information concerning quilt making, both present-day and in living memory, for scholarship and exhibition.  Q.S.O.S. has resulted in a large on-line file at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center in partnership with The Alliance for American Quilts, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving and sharing the history of quilts and quilt makers.

Cal-Co Quilters’ Guild received a grant from the National Quilting Association* for the purpose of contributing to the data collected by the Quilters’ S.O.S.-Save Our Stories project. Funds from this grant provided equipment and software which will enable collection of oral history from quilters in south central Michigan. To see our interviews and others collected from over a thousand quilters, go to QUILT ALLIANCE This link will take you to a list of interviews recently posted from across the U.S.  As new interviews are posted, the current ones are moved off that page.

Beginning in 2009 Cal-Co began interviewing quilters as a part of this oral history collection.  Interviews are recorded, transcribed and submitted with pictures of quilted items for each individual.  Each interview is intended to run approximately forty-five minutes and to stand as a recorded conversation about observations and questions springing from a quilt or related object. Focus interviews are not intended to record comprehensive biographies of working quilt makers but to get at questions about quilt design, techniques, sources, and standards, among other issues.

This fairly large undertaking will be ongoing.  Anyone who is interested in participating, as an interviewer, transcriber, or facilitator, would be welcome.  We would love to hear from you if you would like to nominate someone whom you think should be interviewed or if you are interested in participating.  Please let us know of your interest or questions.

*The National Quilting Association, Inc., a nonprofit organization run by quilters for quilters, was founded in 1970 by seven women in the Washington, D.C., area. The organization was established to create, stimulate, maintain, and record an interest in all matters pertaining to the making, collecting, and preserving of quilts, and to establish and promote educational and philanthropic endeavors through quilts. Membership in the organization is open to all interested individuals. The NQA was chartered in 1972. Local NQA Chapters were also begun during these early years.