By: Marsha MacDowell, Charlotte Quinney, and Mary Worrall
In 2000, the Michigan State University Museum accepted the donation of an embroidered signature quilt that challenged accepted notions of quilts as instruments of good, providing warmth, comfort, joy, and support. The quilt was made in 1926 by a group of individuals as a fundraiser in Chicora, Michigan, to support the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. The materials, construction, design, pictorial imagery, signatures, and even condition of the Chicora KKK quilt hold clues that strengthen and expand our understanding of quiltmaking, of Klan activity, and of the social and cultural history of a particular community at a specific point in time. The quilt is an important example of how material culture can serve as primary source data, sometimes providing tangible and specific evidence not available elsewhere.