Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The term family quilt can suggest many things relating to families and quilts; for example, referring to heirloom quilts handed down through the family, one generation to the next, or simply to quilts put together by family members.
More specifically, the term may be used to suggest quilts that in some way record the history or legacy of a family. It is said that before states kept census records, women sometimes wrote the births and deaths of family member onto quilt squares with indelible ink and then stitched the squares into quilts. African American story quilts of the late nineteenth century are another example. Many quilts of the twentieth century and continuing today are highly artistic, as quilters create intricate patchwork and pictorial displays in vibrant fabrics and color. Also today, quilts are often made using the latest technology to imprint fabric with family photos, documenting a family event such as an anniversary; recording the birth of a baby; or documenting one's lineage or family history -- story quilts of the twenty-first century.