photographed 8/13/2020
photographed 8/13/2020


Willie Maddox (American, 1910 – 1988)
circa 1970s
Cotton, synthetic fibers
Approximate : 7 ft. 3 in. x 72 in. (2.2 x 1.8 m)
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Bruce Haight
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The history of African American quilt making is not well documented but dates back at least to the 19th century and possibly earlier. Before 1865, enslaved African American women in the South often made quilts for their owners and sometimes for themselves using scraps of leftover fabrics. After slavery was abolished, Black women continued to make quilts for their own families and sometimes to sell commercially. This quilt was made by Willie Maddox, an African American woman who was born and raised in Alabama, and who moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan as part of the Great Migration. Maddox learned the art of quilting as a child from her mother and elder sisters and remained active as a quilter for her entire life. What began as an economic necessity became for Maddox a source of enjoyment and an outlet for her creativity. As she said once in an interview, “I do it for the pleasure…I just like to piece.”

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