More than 100 quilts made between 1775 and 1994 are now available to view online through the Montana Memory Project. The Museum of the Rockies quilt collection was catalogued, preserved and is now digitized and available for the public to view anytime online, thanks in part to a 2018 grant from the Montana History Foundation.
The project began with researching each quilt for the digital record. That record contains detailed descriptions of the physical characteristics of the quilt and information on the quilt’s provenance. Next, a complete inventory was taken of the collection and each individual quilt was photographed.
Lastly, the quilts were re-housed to current professional standards. Groups of quilts were originally found to be packed together, often too tightly, and without sufficient padding of their folds for long-term preservation. As part of the cataloging process, the number of quilts in each archival box was reduced and they were properly re-folded. In some cases, those with little batting were rolled, providing the best storage to eliminate any damaging creases. Each box was labeled with details on the contents and a photograph of the quilt.
Now, each quilt can be found on the Montana Memory Project website with its digital record and photograph. That digital record increases access, while at the same time limiting the amount of handling of the quilts by researchers.
Below are some highlights of the collection, just click on the name of the quilt to learn more. Or access the entire collection by clicking here.
“Slashed Star,” circa 1870, is one of the oldest quilts in the collection. It traveled to Montana with a prisoner of war veteran of the Civil War, who came to Montana to homestead in Broadwater County in 1898.
The “Prairie Star” is constructed of an extraordinary number of pieces. Each star is made of 72 small diamonds. It was made in Fort Shaw, MT around 1908 by Mary Hart Baldwin.
And there are two “Postage Stamp” quilts in the collection. One was made by Maude Phillips Tinsley, a relative of William Tinsley, the original builder of the Tinsley House at the Museum of the Rockies. She made two versions of the quilt, one for summer use and one for winter use.
Double-click the photo at left to enlarge.