The Quilt Index: From Preservation and Access to Co-Creation of Knowledge
Quilts are resources for inquiry and instruction for many disciplines, foci for the development of private and public collections, and, increasingly, a visual expressive media that has meaning for makers, owners, and users. The rise of the Internet and the development of cyber-infrastructures have created the capacity to build and use digital quilt resources and to foster networks among quilt makers, owners, and users. This article describes the development of The Quilt Index (www.quiltindex.org), a digital repository of quilt and quilt-related resources, and situates the Index in the landscape of new directions for material culture study, a landscape in which knowledge and resources are now being co-created by those who find meaning in quilts as data. It suggests that making data more accessible, providing diverse tools for use of that data, co-creating knowledge, and providing structured portals for contributed knowledge is reflecting changes in how traditional culture is documented, understood, and used.