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For Immediate Release
April 10, 2009
Amy E. Milne, Executive Director
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -April 10, 2009 - The latest quilts to be posted online at the Quilt Index come from two significant collections archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Made in the late 20th century, these 300-plus quilts represent a broad range of techniques and tell a powerful story about the diversity, artistry and motivations of quiltmakers across the country.
      The Folklife Center, which documents a wide variety of folklife traditions including music, crafts and food, boasts more than 4,000 collections. The just-posted quilts come from two collections. The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection from 1978 covers quilts made by six Appalachian quiltmakers from North Carolina and Virginia. This collection at the Folklife Center site includes 229 photographs and 181 interviews with the six quiltmakers, delving into detail about their daily lives.  It's worthwhile to study the quilts on the Index, and link back to the Center's online presentation to read about these quiltmakers.
AFC_LOC Quilt image     
Above is a simple, practical 16-patch bed quilt made by Mamie Lee Parks Bryan, one of the six Appalachian quilters studied in the project. Mamie, born in 1900, led a hardscrabble life with her coal miner husband and six children.
     A very different aesthetic is represented by the second collection from the Folklife Center now searchable on the Index, consisting of 180 winning quilts from the All-American Quilt Contest sponsored by Land's End and Good Housekeeping from 1992 to 1996. These exemplary quilts from all over the country include many original designs meant to be wall hangings rather than bedding.
     Below is an art quilt completed in 1992 by Edna Harbison of Ontonagon, Michigan. AFC_LOC quilt image
  Michael Taft, head of the archive at the Folklife Center, said of the announcement, "The American Folklife Center is pleased and excited to be represented in the Quilt Index. The U.S. Congress has directed the Center to 'preserve and present' American folklife, and having the Center's two major collections of quilts in the Quilt Index meets this mandate."
     Taft added that this is an especially fitting relationship, since the Folklife Center "is already the repository for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, a project in partnership with the Alliance for American Quilts." Materials from the 900-plus QSOS oral history interviews posted on the Alliance website (www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/qsos) are archived at the Center.
     The Quilt Index is run in partnership by the Alliance for American Quilts, Michigan State University Museum, and MATRIX - The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. The Quilt Index merges tradition with technology and springs from the work of a unique team of researchers and experts committed to making significant, quilt-related data widely accessible to both scholars and the general public.
     Applications are now being accepted from institutions or quilt documentation projects who are interested in becoming a Quilt Index contributor, with a deadline of May 31, 2009. Information and application materials can be found at: http://www.quiltindex.org/collections.php.
     For any questions, or to obtain other quilt images to use in your coverage, please contact Amy Milne, Executive Director of the Alliance, at the number above.

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