• info@howardcountymuseum.org

  • 1200 West Sycamore, Kokomo,
    Indiana 46901

  • (765) 452-4314

Xenia Cord

Xenia Cord has been making history and sharing history her entire life – from the age of 14 months when she emigrated to the United States with her mother on the last ship to leave Norway before the Nazis invaded … to her years of service as a popular folklore instructor at Indiana University Kokomo, a pre-eminent collector, scholar and author in the world of quilting, and a recognized researcher in the history of free African-Americans in Indiana prior to the Civil War. 

Xenia’s many contributions were well covered in a biography published in 2018 when she was inducted into The Quilter’s Hall of Fame. Described as “a distinguished scholar, caring and generous mentor, prolific author and pioneer quilt historian,” Xenia was cited for her devotion “to sharing her love of quilt history and to educating the next generation of quilt historians.”

With degrees in English and History as well as Folklore and American studies, Xenia shared her knowledge and expanded her research as a folklore instructor at IUK for more than 20 years. In the early 1980s, Xenia and friend and fellow IUK instructor Sue Ridlen began teaching a graduate elective in quilt history, one of the first of its type offered in the nation. Xenia’s interest in quilting grew and so did her impact. Locally, she was involved in several very successful community quilt displays and she served as a member of the Howard County Historical Society board.

In 1990, she helped create “Quilt America!” – a national quilt show and competition in Indianapolis, which also introduced the world’s longest running breast health initiative through the “Yes Mam!” Mammogram Quilt Project that raised money to provide free or low cost mammograms for underinsured women. 

Xenia became active in the American Quilt Study Group, serving as its president. She later founded the Midwest Fabric Study Group, welcoming members from 17 states. She has served as a member of the advisory board of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, on the board of The Quilters Hall of Fame and on the restoration committee for the Marie Webster House in Marion, Ind., and on the Indiana Arts Commission. She has published extensively in both scholarly journals and popular quilting magazines.

With the encouragement of IUK professor Herbert Miller, whose free African-American ancestors settled in Weaver (Grant County), she investigated the establishment of the Weaver community and dozens more founded in Indiana before 1860. . Xenia’s 1982 publication “Free Rural Communities in Indiana: A Selected Bibliography” is part of the Indiana Historical Society’s archive designed to preserve Indiana’s African-American heritage.

Her impact has also extended to Kokomo, which became her home nearly 50 years ago. She and her husband Mike, a retired Kokomo attorney, are the parents of four children, grandparents of five, step-grandparents of two, and great grandparents of three. As a parent of a special needs student, she served on the board of Bona Vista programs and was instrumental in expanding special education for Kokomo’s children.
Through her company, Legacy Quilts, Xenia has educated scores of quilt owners on the history and value of their fabric treasures and served as a broker to facilitate their sale. It certainly bears an appropriate name. Xenia Elisabeth Blom Cord has created a legacy that will touch generations to come.