BACK Preserving The Migrant Quilt Project

Photograph of the 2007-2008 Quilt

Courtesy The Migrant Quilt Project

The Arizona Historical Society is honored to announce the receipt of the Migrant Quilt Project into its collections. Founded in Tucson in the mid-2000s, The Migrant Quilt Project memorializes the stories of migrants who have died seeking refuge in the United States. It is a collaborative effort between artists, quiltmakers, and activists to document the names and number of lives lost each year in the desert. The quilts are created to encourage compassion and inspire support for humane changes in border policies.

Rebekah Tabah Percival, Vice President of Library, Archives, and Collections shared, “These quilts tell an important Arizona story. The Arizona Historical Society’s Arizona History Museum is incredibly honored to be caretakers for these artifacts, and make them accessible for future generations to learn about this difficult but important history. Hundreds of people die making the journey to the United States each year and these quilts help bring attention to those lives lost.” 

In 2000 the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office began documenting the names of deceased migrants. Several years later, Jody Ipsen decided to take action after her hikes on remote migrant trails, collecting textiles to turn into quilts. Now in its 20th year, it is a grim reminder of how policies affect human lives. 

Each quilt is unique, and the story for each quilt is shared along with a Quiltmaker’s statement on the website.

Photograph of the 2017-2018 Migrant Quilt

Courtesy The Migrant Quilt Project

Migrant Quilt Project Founder Jody Ipsen shared, “In 2007, inspired by the AIDS quilts, I realized the power of storytelling that quilts behold. I believed that the Migrant Quilt Project, a social justice and subversive quilt-making collection, held similar stories of loss and suffering. And, with Peggy Hazard’s incredible curation with the project, we both strongly believed that this collection belonged to the Arizona History Museum so that these stories can be told to future generations.”  

The Migrant Quilt Project will be preserved at the Arizona History Museum in Tucson with rotating quilts on display. The quilts are available to loan for museums and organizations to have on exhibit. Currently, the 2000-2001 Migrant Quilt is at the Toledo Museum of Art in their new exhibition Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change.

For information about having quilts on loan, contact Statewide Museum Collections Manager Trish Norman at the Arizona History Museum. [email protected] or 520-617-1179.

To learn about the Migrant Quilt Project, visit

Read the article in the Arizona Daily Star.


Read The Migrant Quilt Project Press Release PDF


  • Tucson Sector 2007-2008 Quilt, 183 deaths, made by Nancy Amann & Toni Gorden of Baltimore, Maryland, with Douglas High School students, Douglas, Arizona, 82″ h x 64″ w
  • Tucson Sector 2017-2018 Quilt, 123 deaths, made by Becky Aparicio, Judy Breneman, Terry Grzyb-Wysocki, Joyce Harrison, Peggy Hazard, Bea Kabler, Linda Laird, and Shellie Whitman of the Tucson Quilt Documentation Team, 93″ h x 74″ w
Arizona Historical Society