Massachusetts Quilts

Our Common Wealth

Edited by Lynne Zacek Bassett

The Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project (MassQuilts) is a volunteer organization that holds “documentation days” across the state to identify, date, and photograph pre-1950 quilts in private and museum collections. Formally organized in 1994, to date 6,000 quilts have been documented (the original goal was 3,000). These quilts provide a window through which to view the history of the state, telling stories of international trade and domestic manufacture, economic booms and busts, national politics, and neighborly discourse. The project focuses on quilts that have a history of original use in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Quilts will present the group’s findings. Essays by experts will lend context to catalogue-like entries on notable quilts. The quilts themselves will star, in over 200 illustrations, most of them rich in color.

Cloth: $45
ISBN-13: 9781584657453
Pages: 360 | Size: 8.5 in. x 11 in.
Date Published: February 1, 2009


  • Massachusetts Quilts, in addition to its vivid narratives about individual quilts, puts quilting history into its larger context… A large, sumptuous, brilliantly executed book, it should be welcomed into the library of anyone interested in American textiles, folkways, folk art, New England history, women's history, and Americana in general.

    Maine Antique Digest
  • Massachusetts Quilts, Our Common Wealth is a powerful presentation of historic quilts and their gifts makers. This newly released volume offers and important study of American quilt making… This book is enriching with its detailed text and beautiful color illustrations…

    Inside Antiques
  • In the years since the Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project got underway in 1994, it has examined 6,000 quilts preserved in museums and historical societies and treasured in private homes. They are, as historian Marla R. Miller notes, "artifacts of sentiment . . . mediums for nostalgia, affection, and veneration across generations." And they are also, she writes, "texts of historical insight." Some 200 examples are now handsomely displayed in "Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth," edited by Lynne Zacek Bassett, the project's founder. The book offers commentary on each quilt, its design and composition, the particular circumstances surrounding its making, and, frequently, the maker herself. In all, it is a valuable document of the Commonwealth's cultural history.

    Boston Globe
  • History lovers will appreciate how this book records the stories of Massachusetts people and towns from Nantucket to the Berkshires.

    Lexington's Colonial Times
  • Solidly grounded in impeccable scholarship, yet written in an accessible and engaging style, the authors skillfully use quilts to provide another lens into the history of Massachusetts. Organized by region of the state, rather than by quilt style or type, it offers a fresh way of examining the nearly 6,000 quilts documented in the MassQuilts project. It is an important contribution to the literature on quiltmaking in America and on the lives of New England women.

    Patricia Crews
    Willa Cather Professor of Textiles and Director, International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

About the Author

Lynne Z. Bassett

Lynne Z. Bassett is an independent scholar specializing in New England’s historic costume and textiles, a well-known guest curator, and the author of numerous catalogues and articles. She helped found the Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project. Other contributors to Massachusetts Quilts are Dawn C. Adiletta, Marjorie L. Childers, Helen Ewer, Anita B. Loscalzo, Marla Miller, Aimee E. Newell, Pamela A. Parmal, Paula Bradstreet Richter, Vivien Lee Sayre, and Lauren Whitley.

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