Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories (QSOS) is the largest oral history collection about quiltmakers in the world. Our archive for the original audio recordings and photographs is the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The project was co-founded in 1999 by a dedicated group of Quilt Alliance board members and volunteers who identified an extraordinary gap in the quilt world: no one had ever created an oral-history project to capture the history, craft tradition, and personal experiences of America’s quiltmakers. They envisioned QSOS as a grassroots effort and designed the interview process in ways that would make it accessible to interviewers and quiltmakers at all skill levels and backgrounds, allowing them to explore the central question: “if this quilt could talk,” what would it say? Now, almost twenty years later, the collection includes over 1,200 recorded interviews with quiltmakers from novices to professionals.
The Quilt Alliance celebrates the twentieth anniversary of QSOS in 2019 with a whole new way to share our archive online. When the project is complete, you will be able to listen to the audio recording, read the summary and transcript and view the photos for each interview, and search or browse the entire collection.
Running Stitch, A QSOS Podcast, is hosted by Janneken Smucker, Professor of History at West Chester University. Join us as we explore quilt stories, revealing the inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations of contemporary quiltmakers by drawing from the Quilters S.O.S. — Save Our Stories oral history project. We’ll dig into the QSOS archive to listen to excerpts from past interviews, and bring back interviewees to ask them about what they are working on and thinking about presently. Season one episodes will be released in June and July 2020.
Here you can browse a sample set of 20 QSOS interviews that demonstrate the collection’s new features, such as original interview audio recordings and enhanced descriptions. Subscribe to the Quilt Alliance eNewsletter to receive updates as interviews are added to the new site.
The Quilt Alliance seeks support from all corners of the quilting community to help make the entire QSOS collection accessible online with enhanced features and searching capacity. Individuals, groups and businesses can sponsor one QSOS interview with a $25 donation. Each donor will be paired with an interview and listed as a sponsor when that interview is posted.
Meanwhile, visit our gallery of some of our favorite interviews here, or scroll through below the carousel below. You can also search or browse the full archive of QSOS transcripts.