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Quilting, while often seen as a quintessentially American art form, has a long history throughout the world. Americans’ exposure to other traditions has been intermittent, but reflects other trends in the study of ethnic arts. In the 1950s, interest in folk art overlapped with interest in ethnic art as both create an exotic “other” to readers. Before 1960, that “other” was primarily Hawaiian and European. The 1960s added Cuna molas, and the 1970s saw an explosion of interest in worldwide quilt traditions from Tibetan to Amish.
This paper is a content analysis of quilting traditions referenced in magazine articles from 1900 to 1980. The article database was derived from the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and the Art Index. These indexes provide a replicable source and describe national level magazines of (more or less) popular interest. I reviewed six categories in each index; any articles which included the techniques of applique, piecing, or quilting were included. I examined changes over time, types of magazines, the contexts where ethnic quilts were published, and the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity.