Documentation Days

Greetings everyone on a bright sunshine filled day in January! We had an excellent Quilt Documentation Day here in Elkhart County Indiana last Saturday the 19th of January. This was our 5th year for documenting Elkhart County quilts and it truly was another exciting day of quilt discovery!

Past documentation days at the Elkhart County Museum

Although we all enjoy getting together and sharing the quilts, both vintage and newly made, there is an enduring reason for us to have Documentation Day. On a local level, quilts have been an important part of the history of our county and regional area. I think of course of our Amish and Mennonite heritage but also the social and cultural history that our quilts contain. Some of you will remember the quilt we’ve had the privilege to document that was beautiful– velvet Stars with the fabric being of instrument case lining remnants from the Conn Music Industry right here in our own area. Each time we get together we have the privilege of seeing extraordinary quilts made or migrated to ‘Elkhart County. We become a part of that history when we document quilt history in our own time.

“Migrated” to Elkhart county gives a new dimension as that allows us to trace immigration patterns to Elkhart County through quilts. We know certain quilt patterns and styles were made in certain areas of our country so we can identify where the quilts originated. When someone has had the foresight to sign and/or label their quilt we can all share in the history of the quilt’s as well as the owner’s/maker’s journey.
We as well as those before us quilt to create, and celebrate, events such as weddings and the birth of new family members, we quilt to commemorate, such as the World’s Fair Century of Progress quilts or the many quilts that arise from a shared event, such as the Quilts of Valor. We quilt to grieve, knowing that when our hands are busy it gives our hearts a chance to heal.

Whether you are a quilter,, collect quilts ,have quilts to share or are curious about quilting, I encourage you to organize a Quilt Documentation Day as we do here or if you already have one regularly in your county be sure to participate! It’s an incredible opportunity to document and discuss yet more quilts!

Donna L. Kooistra, American Quilter’s Society Certified Appraiser of Quilted Textiles