In July the quilting community was saddened to learn that Quilters Newsletter, the beloved magazine started by Bonnie Leman 47-years-ago, was being shut down by F+W Media.
Leman founded Quilters Newsletter in 1969 and published the first issue in September of that year from her kitchen table. Quilt historians and experts agree that by researching and publishing information about quilting Leman shaped and guided the revival of the craft that began in the mid-1970’s and continues to this day.
F+W has announced that it’s donating Leman’s papers to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The magazine archives include Leman’s handwritten and typewritten notes, copies of every issue of Quilters Newsletter, and quilt patterns from the magazine and the mail-order catalog company that was part of the Quilters Newsletter brand. Leman’s collection of patterns from other publications, some of which are nearly 100 years old, are included in the donation.
Prior to this Leman’s papers were not readily available to the public.
Bonnie Leman talks about the first issue of the magazine and her vision for it in this 2002 video created by Quilt Treasures.
The cover of the first issue of Quilters Newsletter.
The coversof the 15th anniversary special issue, the 30th anniversary issue, the 45th anniversary issue, and the October/November 2016 issue which is the last.
“Researchers and future generations of quilters will have access to an abundance of quilting history, and the legacy established by Quilters Newsletter founder Bonnie Leman will be preserved,” says General Manager of F+W’s quilting and sewing devision Kristi Loeffelholz. “The Briscoe Center has an extensive collection of quilt history documentation and we’re thrilled to be able to add to that valuable collection.”
Declining ad revenue is having a serious effect on the magazine business right now and I realize that it’s not possible to keep every publication going (F+W also publishes McCall’s Quilting, Quiltmaker, Quilting Arts, and Modern Patchwork magazines), but Quilters Newsletter has a history worth honoring. I wish instead of cancelling it F+W would have chosen to infuse it with new life.
Leman was an innovative publisher dedicated to furthering the understanding of quilting as an art form. I feel confident that despite the changes in the media market, or perhaps because of them, there’s an audience for in-depth content on quilt making and on the quilting industry even if it means going digital. Although I’m thrilled that Leman’s legacy will be preserved, and I hope to be able to visit the Briscoe Center and spend time with her papers myself, I can’t help but feel that there was a real missed opportunity here.