A panel from Jacob Lawrence's 1940-41 "Migration Series" (© Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / ARS, NY / Museum of Modern Art / SCALA / Art Resource, NY) By Ira Berlin, SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2010
Washington State African American Quilt Documentation Project
(Quilts of Consequence)
This project was initiated as the first in a series of projects to record Washington State’s African American quilts, the quilt makers, and their stories. This is an ongoing project and data collected will be cataloged and preserved for inclusion in Washington’s statewide documentation project.
If you live in Washington State and have an African American family quilt, in ANY CONDITION, and would like to be considered for inclusion in this statewide documentation project, please contact A'donna Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download and view some of the quilts documented to date (Photos only, text will be included in final publication).
When I was about to retire for a second time in 2014, my husband and I were visiting his family in Texas. We have been going there for over 30 years, but on this particular visit I noticed almost every bed had a beautiful handmade quilt. I found out my husband’s great-Aunt Merle made them. This moved me to think about my own immediate family. We were born and raised in Washington state, far away from our southern roots in Mississippi and Alabama. And, we had nothing made with such love and care to pass on from generation to generation. I decided I was going to learn to quilt, and told my husband I wanted a sewing machine for a retirement gift…though at that time I did not even know how to turn one on.
After teaching myself to quilt, I became interested in quilt history and the stories embedded in the quilts. I started collecting quilt documention publications from almost every state, including my own state. It was my understanding that the book, Women and Their Quilts: A Washington State Centennial Tribute, by Namcyann Twelker, did not encompass a wide span of Washington state. That said, the book was also void of diversity, and I can only attribute that to the signs of the times (late 1980s). It is my desire to uncover as many African American family quilts as possible in Washington state and tell their stories here…and, to ensure they are included in the next state quilt documentation project.
“I was leaving the South
to fling myself into the unknown . . .
I was taking a part of the South
to transplant in alien soil,
to see if it could grow differently,
if it could drink of new and cool rains,
bend in strange winds,
respond to the warmth of other suns
and, perhaps, to bloom”
The Warmth of Many Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson