Discover Vintage America - NOVEMBER 2018

American Quilt Study Group sets the standards

My readers and students have often heard me mention the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) as I am very passionate in my support of this amazing quilt history group. It is the only national group devoted to researching and documenting the history of American quilts. How can one not want to be part of an organization that "establishes and promotes the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies, providing opportunities for study, research, and the publication of works that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects." To join or learn more, see

Ann Dagge's quilt - Smithsonian Art History Museum, Patricia Smith Collection (photos by Sandra Starley)

The AQSG was established in 1980 in California by founder Sally Garoutte and a small group of people who shared her love of antique quilts and quilt history. This stalwart core group started with the "goal to preserve the story of quiltmaking – past, present, and future." They wanted to meet on at least a yearly basis and simply share their knowledge.

AQSG has come a long way from the simple beginnings. It is actually now an international group with members in a number of countries beyond the United States. The group has hundreds of members and does many things to preserve and document quilt history. One of the most tangible ways they preserve quiltmaking history is through their two scholarly publications: Blanket Statements and Uncoverings.

Blanket Statements is published quarterly and contains a variety of articles on quilt history, current research topics, recently published books, upcoming exhibits, and much more. Uncoverings is published annually. It contains the detailed, well documented, and highly vetted research papers presented each year at the annual seminar. Papers cover a vast range of topics including international quilting history and trends. AQSG also has a mentoring program to assist people in researching and writing the papers for both publications. The organization also issues two different research study grants to literally help pay the way to make critical historical research a reality.

Crowds at bed turnings, quilt display, Brian and Donna Ruppert Collection

The American Quilt Study Group is headquartered in Lincoln, NE and is a 501c(3) organization supported primarily through membership dues and annual seminar. It hosts a veritable storehouse of quilt history in its Research Library Collection. The library contains more than 5,000 books, journals, and quilt exhibit catalogs and other collections. It is a fabulous quilt history resource. Moreover, you can access this library in your own home through interlibrary loan. For more information see

The organization holds an annual seminar is held each fall at different locations throughout the United States. This year's seminar is in Maryland. In 2016, it was held in Arizona and in 2019 it will be held in Nebraska. It is a truly amazing event full of wonderful quilt exhibits, research paper presentations, and knowledgeable speakers.

Popular talk/trunk show by Mimi Dietrich, an applique quilt expert

Each area of the country has its own unique quilting history, which is showcased in bed turnings by local collectors and museums, exhibits, and tours to regional museums and historical societies. Opportunities to acquire fabulous antique quilt treasures abound at the seminar from the silent auctions, live auctions and the world class quilt vendors who set up pop- up shops for the event.

There is so much more I could tell you about AQSG including my favorite topic: the biennial Quilt Study, which is a member quiltmaking challenge.
Please come back next month to learn about the 2020 Quilt Study Challenge and get inspired to create your own piece of history.

Sandra Starley is nationally certified quilt appraiser, quilt historian, and avid antique quilt collector. She travels throughout the U.S. presenting talks on antique quilt history, fabric dating classes and trunk shows as well as quilting classes. Learn more at Send your comments and quilt questions to

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