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Tufts' Patches for Peace Quilt: Details

History of the quilt

On September 11 2001, about 400 students and staff gathered at Tufts' Hillel to grieve, to spend the day together, or to talk about possible actions in the face of the attacks. Within a couple of hours students decided to create a Patches for Peace Quilt to provide a creative outlet and set a message of hope, peace and community. Hillel provided logistical and infrastructure support, and members of the Hillel student board approached many of the approximately 160 student organizations and groups for their participation in the project. The students developed patch-decorating guidelines that asked organizations to "focus on our community uniting together for peace; focus on an optimistic future; and make it appropriate, (i.e. no gruesome images,) for people of all backgrounds and ages."

Eventually 88 student organizations — ranging from the Association of Latin American Students to the Arab Student Association, from the Chamber Singers to the Inter Greek Council, and from the No Homers Club to the Women's Soccer Team — each produced a patch. Last minute additions by the Miller Hall RA Staff and The Observer were included but the organizations could not be added to the bronze plaque that had already been ordered and which therefore only lists 86 organizations. The logistical problem of connecting an unknown number of patches to form a rectangular quilt was solved by creating two centerpieces describing the project ('Patches for Peace – United in Hope' and 'Tufts Remembers September 11, 2001') whose size could be adjusted depending on the number of pieces available. To sew the patches into the overall quilt, a group of volunteers met several nights at Hillel, and student organizations could send members over to help.

Student leaders and clergy from the University Chaplain's Office led the banner ceremony barely two months after the attacks, on November 7, 2001, in which the quilt was first exhibited to gathering students, faculty and staff in the Campus Center. Hillel organized two other, related community events that day: Steven Grossman, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee and AIPAC, spoke to the audience and about 100 student activists (representing many of the organizations that had contributed patches) came to a dinner and then participated in facilitated discussion groups at the Hillel Center. In fact, Hillel ultimately received the international Hillel William Haber Award for their support of the overall Patches for Peace Project and surrounding programs.

Please contact DCA at 617-627-3631 or at archives [at] tufts.edu, if you know more details about the original Patches for Peace Project or can identify patches that we currently cannot connect to a particular student organization.

The 88 Student Organizations


The preservation and 2011 Patches of Peace project was realized with the help of Hillel staff and former students who provided essential background information about the quilt project (Lauren Estes, Lenny Goldstein, and Brooke Menschel), the conservators from ConText, LLC, Joseph Golia and his staff from the office of Campus Life, staff from Facilities Services who helped hang up the quilt for the exhibit, and DCA staff and its graduate as well as undergraduate assistants.