Tag Archives: cultural items

Layers to Quilts


K.A.- “Something that comes to mind as a folk object is Quilts.”

Me- “How are they of significance to you?”

K.A.- “My grandmother has a collection of them and it has a big significance in African American culture.”

Me- “Could you explain its significance to your community a bit further?”

K.A.- “They have a practical purpose but also are symbolic and were used for storytelling. Historically, and why they carry significance for us, is because they used to contain codes and routes of the Underground Railroads that helped our enslaved ancestors escape.”


The participant first saw her grandma’s collection a few years ago during Easter. Her grandma was a collector of quilts, with a range of very intricate pieces. Some had very artistic figures and imagery and hold history of African American culture, of the past and present. The participant explains that the showing of her grandma’s collection was a very heartfelt and sentimental moment.


Before interviewing the participant I wouldn’t have known that quilts have a deeper story for African American culture. For the most part it appears to be a practical object, somewhat similar to a blanket that keeps warmth, but it has a lot more depth. A strategy that was used in the past to help African Americans to escape and regain their freedom. In a more metaphorical sense the quilt has a lot of layers; in its composition, in its history, and its cultural significance.