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New York Quilt Project

Identifier: A0013

Scope and Contents

The archival material consists of three main categories. The first is the documentation of the quilts during the 1988 to 1989 New York Quilt Project. Each quilt brought to a Quilt Day, or sent in by mail, was given an alpha-numeric designator using an acronym of either the county or location of the Quilt Day, and the number in which it was received (for example, LIHH-1 is Quilt 1 from Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island). Each quilt also has a corresponding four-page questionnaire that documents both the history of the quilt maker, and the style and condition of the quilt. Each quilt was also photographed. This material is filed alphabetically by alpha-numeric designation. See a key to the acronyms in Appendix A.

Administrative files relating to the NYQP are included in the collection. They contain mostly correspondence with the consultants and Quilt Day coordinators, as well as some printed matter showing advertisements for various Quilt Days, and volunteer orientation training and slides.

Research material for the catalog New York Beauties is also included in the collection. This material contains both text-based research related to specific quilts, photographs, and negatives of the images that appear in the book, and general research providing contextual information on quilts and quilting history.

Also included is a series of audiocassettes including recordings of a conference with Shelly Zegart, Irma Shore, and Phyllis Tepper from November 1986; the volunteer orientation slide lecture from January 1989; and a collection of taped interviews from various Quilt Days.


  • 1986 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Access to sensitive materials may be restricted at the discretion of the American Folk Art Museum.

Conditions Governing Use

The New York Quilt Project is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.

Historical Note

The New York Quilt Project (NYQP) was initiated by Phyllis A. Tepper, who was a docent at the American Folk Art Museum (then called the Museum of American Folk Art). Tepper’s interest in quilts began at the museum. Eventually, she enrolled in quilting classes and began attending lectures on the history of quilts, including a lecture by Shelly Zegart, as part of a symposium of Southern Folk Art sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) in 1985. Zegart discussed the Kentucky Quilt Project. In the mid-1980s, many states embarked on “quilt projects,” attempting to document the quilts made in those states.

Because of Tepper’s association with AFAM, and the museum’s long history of exhibiting American quilts, AFAM was a natural sponsor for the New York Quilt Project. A panel of consultants were hired, including Robert Bishop, director of the Museum of American Folk Art; Deborah Ann Blincoe, a New York State folklorist who helped in the initial training of volunteers; Harvey Green, then social historian with the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester; Jonathan Holstein, quilt historian and curator of the Whitney Quilt Show in 1971; Laurel Horton, folklorist, consultant to other state quilt projects, and director of the South Carolina Project; Cyril I. Nelson, senior editor at Dutton Studio Books and a quilt collector of long standing; Patsy Orlofsky, textile conservator; Elizabeth V. Warren, then curator at the Museum of American Folk Art; Judith Reiter Weissman, quilt historian with special emphasis on women’s history; and Shelly Zegart, quilt dealer and historian and the “mother” of state quilt projects.

A questionnaire, which makes up the bulk of the collection, was created with research help from Laurel Horton and Lee Kogan. The questionnaire was created with the intention of one day adding all of the results to a database.

Forty-five Quilt Days were held across the state in 1988 and 1989. Although not every New York County was represented, each region was, and the organizers advertised across the state with various quilt guilds and groups. Volunteers became documenters, quilt hangers, and photographers, and more than six thousand quilts were documented in churches, YMCAs, county fairgrounds, museums, historical societies, and more.

The NYQP resulted in an exhibition and book, both titled New York Beauties: Quilts from the Empire State (on view April 23, 1994–September 11, 1994).


6.25 cubic feet (standard document cases; half-size document cases)

464 audiocassette(s) (audiocassette cases 9.25 x 12.25 x 3.25")

57.75 cubic feet (file cabinets)

1 object(s) : (patchwork wall hanging measures 39 x 34.5")

Language of Materials



The New York Quilt Project (NYQP) was initiated by the American Folk Art Museum and attempted to locate, document, preserve, and create an archive for the quilts made in New York State prior to 1940. The documented quilts were made from 1753 to 1940. Archival material includes photographs and questionnaires for more than six thousand quilts, administrative files for the NYQP, research files for the 150 quilts featured in the catalog New York Beauties, as well as general research files about quilts.


The collection material is arranged in five series. The first series includes the bulk of the material, which is the forms and photographs of the quilts that were collected during the Quilt Days. They are arranged alphabetically by the code given to the quilt day, and then chronologically by assigned quilt number. The second series is related to the administration of the quilt days and is organized alphabetically by topic. The New York Beauties series is also arranged alphabetically by the code given to the quilt day, and then chronologically by assigned quilt number. The Research Series is arranged alphabetically by subject, and the audiocassettes in the Quilt Day Interviews Series are arranged alphabetically by quilt day code.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was created by Phyllis A. Tepper, Lee Kogan, Jacqueline M. Atkins, and the American Folk Art Museum from 1988-1994

A Guide to the New York Quilt Project
Mimi Lester and Emily Christensen
November 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

47-29 32nd Place
Long Island City New York 11101 United States
(212) 595-9533