Since 1910, when the Museum's first American bed covering was acquired, curators in the American Wing have gradually amassed an admirable collection. Except for a few justly famous pieces, however, it is largely unknown. The textile collections of many museums remain under-explored for several reasons. Traditionally, art museums have not emphasized the utilitarian, primarily homemade, and often anonymous items in their collections such as quilts. Additionally, bed coverings are difficult to exhibit because of their large size. Most importantly, because the cotton and silk textiles that make up many of these works are exceedingly fragile, a museum must take its job as cultural caretaker particularly seriously; by rarely displaying our bed covers, we are prolonging their lives. Over the years an increasing number of collectors, quiltmakers, coverlet weavers, scholars, and textile enthusiasts have asked to see our quilts and coverlets. The Museum staff is not able to accommodate requests to see the entire collection of 119 bed coverings. Only by prearrangement can we show a small number of them to an occasional viewer or allow visitors to make use of the catalogued information kept for study purposes. This book provides greater access to the Museum's outstanding collection and enables all who are interested to discover the beauty and historical significance of our American quilts and coverlets.