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Binding Us Together: Quilts of the African Diaspora: Home

The purpose of this guide is to highlight resources related to quilting in the United States, on the African continent, and throughout the African Diaspora. Guide by Tracy Crawford.

Introduction

Welcome to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Binding Us Together: Quilts of the African Diaspora Guide.This guide is designed to assist researchers with identifying resources related to quilts created by people of African descent that are located in the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, other Divisions of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and beyond. Included in the guide are children’s books, exhibition catalogs, monographs, and selected journal articles. Documentaries, biographies, and links to organizations are also featured.

Collection Highlights

Black threads : an African American quilting sourcebook book cover.

Black Threads

One million African Americans spend approximately $118 million annually on quilting. Some believe that recent studies of oral histories telling of the role quilting played in the Underground Railroad have inspired African Americans to take up their fabric and needles, but whatever the reason, quilters like Faith Ringgold, Clementine Hunter, Winnie McQueen, and many others are keeping the African American traditions of quilting alive.This is the first comprehensive guide to African American quilt history and contemporary practices. It offers more than 1,700 bibliographic references, many of them annotated, covering exhibit catalogs, books, newspapers, magazines, dissertations, films, novels, poetry, speeches, works of art, advertisements, patterns, greeting cards, auction results, ephemeral items, and online resources on African American quilting. The book also includes primary research done by the author on the Internet usage of African American quilters, a listing of over 100 museums with African American-made quilts in their permanent collections, a directory of African American quilting groups in 29 states, and a detailed timeline that covers 200 years of African American quilting and needle arts events.

Stitchin' and pullin' : a Gee's Bend quilt book cover.

Stitchin' and Pullin'

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, grandmother and granddaughter, aunt and niece, friend and friend. For a hundred years, generations of women from Gee’s Bend have quilted together, sharing stories, trading recipes, singing hymns—all the while stitchin’ and pullin’ thread through cloth. Every day Baby Girl listens, watches, and waits, until she’s called to sit at the quilting frame. Piece by piece, she puzzles her quilt together—telling not just her story, but the story of her family, the story of Gee’s Bend, and the story of her ancestors’ struggle for freedom.

Ubuntutu, life legacies of love and action : quilt tributes to Desmond and Leah Tutu book cover.

Ubuntutu

Ubuntutu: Life Legacies of Love and Action features quilts that pay tribute to the indelible contributions that Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town, and his wife Leah, have made in addressing human rights, advancing social justice issues, and advocating for peace in South Africa and around the world. Archbishop Tutu is one of the most well-known champions of antiapartheid in South Africa and is a vigorous campaigner for many human rights causes. Leah, a founder of the South African Domestic Workers Association, has worked alongside her husband to advocate for peace and social justice. These art pieces also honor the Tutus' faith and the enduring love they have for each other. The word ubuntutu, coined by one of the quilt artists, combines the name Tutu with the Nguni word ubuntu, which can be translated as "human kindness." In the spirit of ubuntu, the quilts featured in this catalog remind us we are all interconnected. This book, which accompanies an exhibition by the same name, is a collaborative project of the Michigan State University Museum, the Women of Color Quilters Network, and the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Gee's Bend : the architecture of the quilt book cover.

Gee's Bend

In 2002, Gee's Bend burst into international prominence through the success of Tinwood's Quilts of Gee's Bend exhibition and book, which revealed an important and previously invisible art tradition from the African American South. Critics and popular audiences alike marveled at these quilts that combined the best of contemporary design with a deeply rooted ethnic heritage and compelling human stories about the women.Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt is a major book and museum exhibition that will premiere at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), in June 2006 before traveling to seven American museums through 2008. The book's 330 color illustrations and insightful text bring home the exciting experience to readers while displaying all the cultural heritage and craftsmanship that have gone into these remarkable quilts.

An American Quilt

When we think of slavery, most of us think of the American South. We think of back-breaking fieldwork on plantations. We don't think of slavery in the North, nor do we think of the grueling labor of urban and domestic slaves. Rachel May's rich new book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era--all through the discovery of a remarkable quilt.While studying objects in a textile collection, May opened a veritable treasure-trove: a carefully folded, unfinished quilt made of 1830s-era fabrics, its backing containing fragile, aged papers with the dates 1798, 1808, and 1813, the words "shuger," "rum," "casks," and "West Indies," repeated over and over, along with "friendship," "kindness," "government," and "incident." The quilt top sent her on a journey to piece together the story of Minerva, Eliza, Jane, and Juba--the enslaved women behind the quilt--and their owner, Susan Crouch.May brilliantly stitches together the often-silenced legacy of slavery by revealing the lives of these urban enslaved women and their world. Beautifully written and richly imagined, An American Quilt is a luminous historical examination and an appreciation of a craft that provides such a tactile connection to the past.

Show Way

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Winner of a Newbery Honor! Soonie's great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Ways -- maps for slaves to follow to freedom. When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. And generations later, Soonie -- who was born free -- taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful quilts to be sold at market and how to read. From slavery to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches and the fight for literacy, the tradition they called Show Way has been passed down by the women in Jacqueline Woodson's family as a way to remember the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future. Beautifully rendered in Hudson Talbott's luminous art, this moving, lyrical account pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters' lives.

Message to Researchers

The Binding Us Together: Quilts of the African Diaspora Guide is not meant to be a comprehensive of all resources, but represents materials that are currently available at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture as identified in the New York Public Library's catalog. This guide may be updated as new resources become available.