The University of Arizona

Woman Trader Goldie Richmond Highlighted at Arizona State Museum

January 5, 2001

EXHIBIT: "Portraits in Cloth: Tohono O'odham Quilts of Goldie Richmond"

DATES: Jan. 27 - May 26

WHERE: Arizona State Museum Paths of Life Gallery, located just east of the University of Arizona Main Gate at Park and University
Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.
Admission is free

Photo editors: Call for photos of Richmond, her renowned quilt, and Carolyn O'Bagy Davis: 520-626-8381.

A new temporary exhibit at Arizona State Museum celebrates the multi-faceted life of Goldie Preston Tracy Richmond - a most extraordinary woman from Arizona's recent past.

Titled "Portraits in Cloth: Tohono O'odham Quilts of Goldie Richmond," the exhibit is a collaboration among Arizona State Museum curators and Carolyn O'Bagy Davis, a Tucson author and quilter. Spearheaded by Davis' intense interest in Richmond's work, this exhibit is a labor of love. "The major focus of the exhibit is Goldie's lifelong connection to the Tohono O'odham people, first through her work and then through her art," says Davis. "We will feature three of her quilts with themes related to the Tohono O'odham."

One of them, titled "Papago Indian Activities Quilt," currently in ASM's permanent collection, was recently designated one of the most significant quilts of the 20th century. The exhibit will also include an array of "Goldie-abilia," including an extraordinary crocheted man-in-the-maze doily, which Davis discovered during the course of her research for this exhibit.

An exceptionally large woman, Goldie stood 6'4'' and weighed around 350 pounds. She wore a man's size 14 shoe. She made all her own clothes, partly to save money but primarily because she could not buy anything large enough to fit. Her size, as well as her exploits, made her somewhat of a legend. It is said that her heart was just as big as the rest of her.

At the time of her wedding to Marion Tracy, Goldie was 21 years old and had become stepmother of 7, grandmother of 17, and great-grandmother of 5. Marion was almost 4 decades her senior. In 1926, when Goldie was 25, the couple moved to the Southern Arizona mining town of Quijotoa on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Here Goldie spent years as a hard rock miner, an animal trapper, and trading post operator. During this time she also learned to speak the Tohono O'odham language.

In 1932 Marion and Goldie opened the Tracy's Trading Post in San Simon, Ariz., and ran it together until Marion's death in 1936. Goldie continued to run the trading post on her own until her second marriage in the 1940s.

Goldie and second husband Jim Richmond lived in San Simon where she continued to spend much time making and selling quilts - extraordinary works through which she interpreted the lifestyles of the Tohono O'odham people with whom she lived.

The couple retired to Mesa in the late 1960s. Goldie died there in 1972.