Michigan Heritage Awards
^ MHA Awardees List ^
1995 awardee, Remus (Mecosta County), quilter
Deonna Green (b. 1948), who learned to quilt from family members, grew up
surrounded by the quilting traditions of her family and community. She makes
quilts for many occasions, including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries,
and the births of family members. Within her community, she contributes
to quilting efforts that provide for neighbors in need after fires and other
Since 1983, however, Deonna has combined her skill as a quiltmaker and her
interest and love for her family and community in creating unique documents
of family and community history. Her cousin, Ken Todd, first had the idea
for depicting family and community history on a quilt and encouraged Deonna
who enlisted the help of her mother, lone, and several other relatives to
painstakingly research family genealogy and oral history. Records of family
history were unearthed in archives in Lansing, Detroit, Washington, Maryland,
and Kentucky and stories were collected of how the family eventually settled
in Mecosta County. Deonna then led her family in designing and making a
quilt based on their research. The resulting Todd Family Quilt illustrates,
through embroidered text and images, the story of former slave--Stephen
Todd, his wife--Caroline Kahler, and six generations of their descendants.
After completing two more versions of the Todd Family Quilt, Deonna continued
to research area and family history and to make quilts recording her work.
Since 1990 she has completed the Sawyer Family Quilt, the Green Family Quilt,
and the Old Settlers' Quilt. Each quilt is painstakingly researched and
executed; Deonna estimates that "it took her a hundred hours just to complete
one block of a quilt." (1) These quilts and others have been exhibited
in local, regional, and national exhibitions.
Deonna has also been generous in sharing her remarkable talents with others.
She has demonstrated quilting at Wheatland Festival, the Festival of Michigan
Folklife and the Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. In addition
to sharing her skills within the family, she has taught general quiltmaking
techniques (in particular the steps of researching and producing a family
history quilt) in museum and MSU Extension workshops and to 4-H groups and
school classes in Mecosta, Lansing, and Detroit.
For an interview with Deonna Green, go to: http://www.museum.msu.edu/glqc/exhibits_Human%20Rights-3c.html
and scroll down.
(1) Green, Deonna. Audio recorded interview with Marsha MacDowell. 26
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