Signature Quilt Pilot Project

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Signature Quilt Pilot Project 

Welcome! These are the communication pages for the Signature Quilt Project pilot on the Quilt Index.  Anyone can read these pages.  To post a question or participate in the discussion, you may create an account following the links in the upper right corner. Thanks for visiting!

Project Background:

Sign up to Participate: Please email us if you want to participate in this project.

SQP Trainings

Three trainings were held: 

  1. Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 1pm Eastern Daylight Time (10 am Pacific) 
  2. Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 1pm Eastern Daylight Time (10 am Pacific)
  3. Tuesday, July 14, 20009 at 1pm Eastern Daylight Time (10 am Pacific)

Training Materials

Please note: If you complete the entry of your quilt after October 2009 (the end of the grant period), please contact the Quilt Index ( so that your quilt record can be verified.

SQP Questions and Answers

  • Can I copy and paste text from a document I have written? Yes, but you have to adjust some settings and save the document as a txt file in order to make sure that you're entering plain text (the system standard is callled "UTF-8").  If you type text directly into the online entry form, your text will automatically be UTF-8.  If you want to write it into a document first, or convert it from a document you already have, use these instructions: :Media:TextEntryInstructions.doc
  • I couldn't join the training sessions.  How can I participate?   We are posting training materials and will maintain a talkback page here to help people participate. Print out the "SQP Tutorial Document" above and follow the directions to create an account.  We'll review and assign you to the Signature Quilt Project.  Then follow the directions in the document to enter ("ingest") your quilt.
  • My quilt isn't documented yet (or is in another place). Can I participate?  You do not need to have the documentation completed by the training time.  The target date for entering documentation and images is August 12, 2009.
  • What are you doing with the survey results? We will be reviewing the survey responses and will post them here later in the summer.
  • Are quilt TOPS eligible? Yes. We are looking to be as inclusive as possible.
  • What happens to an entry returned with comments? What disqualifies a submission? We expect that the QI team will be working closely with individuals to enhance their entries. The only reasons an entry would be rejected are if the information is too sketchy, the entry has only one signature, the item is not a quilt or quilt top, or if the entry contains highly objectionable (for instance racist) inscriptions, at which time we would turn to the Quilt Index Editorial Board.
  • Can I print a copy of my quilt record? Yes. Follow the instructions for searching for your record on pages 6-7 of the training document. After you have found your record, click on the identification number in reddish color to view your record. You can print this page.
  • Where can I add information about the quilting in my quilt? Information about quilting can go on the page for technical information, page 3, in the "Features" field.
  • Can I enter more than one quilt? Yes. Please enter your first quilt and then let us know that you would like to add additional quilts. We will check the record for your first quilt and let you know when it is okay to add additional quilts.

Have another question? Log in, and post your question on the SQP Questions and Answers page.

Images and Photography
There are lots of places to find information about taking good photography. Here are two links with good descriptions and directions for photographing quilts.

1.  "Shoot That Quilt" This excellent guide from Holly Knott is geared towards textile artists who will be photographing quilts a lot. It's also good as guide to provide if you are asking a friend or amateur photographer to shoot the quilts for you.

What is a Signature Quilt?

As this project has developed, the Signature Quilt Project Team and the Quilt Index Management Team have had many discussions about what makes a quilt a signature quilt. We are looking to be as inclusive as possible with this pilot project. Descriptive types of signature quilts discussed have included:

  • Quilts with names
  • Quilts with actual signatures
  • Quilts that carry multiple signatures or names inked, stamped, embroidered and otherwise inscribed
  • Multi-signatures for fundraisers all done in one cursive hand and not actually signed by participants but with participants knowledge
  • Multi-signatures done in more than one cursive hand but not actually signed by participants
  • Multi-signatures for fundraisers done in more than one cursive hand with some names actually signed by participants.
  • Multi-signatures for fundraisers where some signed a block; some gathered the names and donations but stitched the signatures on their block all in one cursive hand; and some folks didn't even know their name was on the quilt because someone else paid to have another's name on the quilt without their knowledge
  • Friendship quilts with all "real" signatures by participants
  • Album quilts made for a family or community member who was moving away
  • Presentation quilts made to honor a special person in the community
  • Commemorative quilts with multi-names but no knowing participation by those feature on the quilt
  • Is any signed quilt, even if it only has one signature on it, a signature quilt?

Signature Quilts and Genealogy

If you have a family signature quilt, consider searching for the names on the quilt in a genealogical database. Most genealogical databases can help you build a family tree, by connecting the name you know to the person's parents and/or children.

Family Search,, is a free genealogical database provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is available to anyone online; no subscription is required. The database features searchable pedigrees added by other researchers, as well as some nineteenth century U.S. Census data and the data of the International Genealogical Index. There are also resources on doing African American genealogy.

Gilda Bryant has written an article, "Clues in the Quilting," about doing genealogical detective work using signature quilts that might be helpful as you begin your search.

Besides using signature quilts to learn about your family's past, you might want preserve current family history with a signature quilt. Check out Edith Wagner's article from on creating reunion signature quilts for posterity:

Signature Quilt Bibliography

An extensive list of recommended reading created by Nancy Hornback is available on the Quilt Index at

Thank You

Thanks very much to Lynn Gorges and Nancy Hornback for jointly beginning the Signature Quilt Project in 2003, to the Salser Family Foundation for supporting a specific focus on Signature Quilts for the Quilt Index pilot of public object submissions, to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (which is supporting the development of public object submissions to the Quilt Index), to Karen Alexander for her endless expertise, and to the members of the American Quilt Study Group listserv for sparking the conversation that led to the SQP convergence in spring 2009.

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