National Quilt Register


The National Quilt Register was a major initiative of the Pioneer Women's Hut, a museum located at Tumbarumba at the foothills to the Snowy Mountains in southern NSW, Australia.

In adopting a national role the Pioneer Women's Hut has been involved in State and Federal advocacy on behalf of country museums - published 3 books and a leaflet about women's lives - actively encouraged women to care for their own heritage - and launched a major initiative to celebrate the fact that we had been open for 10 years and to once again give ordinary women a voice, The National Quilt Register, an on-line register of Australia quilts.

excerpt from the National Quilt Register

Old quilts of all types have always been about memories and women's hidden, often unspoken, language. They carry stories about our history and about needlework and provide a rich insight into women's lives. In the National Quilt Register women tell their own stories, some for the first time, about love, despair, managing, surviving, adversity, friendship, endurance. The quilts stay where they are and the stories are shared.


The NQR was a huge effort over 5 years by volunteers from all parts of the country co-ordinated by The Pioneer Women's Hut. Early estimates were that there may be 500 to 600 old quilts in Australia, but as we passed the 1,000 mark we know we have just touched the tip of the iceberg.

quilt made by Grace Nicholas around 1851 - from the National Quilt Register

The National Quilt Register was supported by major museums and heritage organisations, quilting and embroidery groups, regional museums, women's groups and individuals across the country. Women joining with other women to record our history through quilts.

Here are some things to remember about the Register:
  • Quilts on the register range from early in the 19th century until about 1965, the cut off date
  • It is a research register with many layers of information
  • A core premise of the NQR is that all quilts are equally significant, from the finely stitched decorative ones to the humble, functional ones made for warmth
  • The register covers quilts with stories and quilts where the stories are lost
  • All registration forms have been filled in by owners of quilts and we accepted absolutely what is on the form.

Unfortunately due to lack of funding with the AMOL (Australian Museums On Line) The National Quilt Register is no longer live however it is archived and still available online as part of the National Library of Australia's Trove site - the Register can be viewed however the search function is not available.

Negotiations are currently underway to find another site for the register to be hosted and it is hoped that it will be available as a live site again soon.