Between the Lines
Part 1: April 15–June 18
Part 2: June 24–September 3
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College announces a sampler exhibition (April 15 – September 3, 2023) entitled “Between the Lines: Innovation and Expression in Women’s Sewing Samplers.” The exhibition is curated by Caroline Culp, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History at Vassar, with the assistance of Ida-Rose Chabon, class of 2024. Exhibited in two parts, the samplers and related needlework pictures are drawn from the museum’s collection, with different objects in each part. Dates for Part 1 are April 15 to June 18 and for Part 2 dates are June 24 to September 3. In total, approximately 15 schoolgirl embroideries will be on display, plus loans of 19th century materials for sampler making from the nearby Locust Grove Estate. According to Caroline, the objects chosen for the exhibition explore “how women makers from across Europe and the Americas expressed creativity and individuality from within the confines of this formulaic medium. Visually similar examples demonstrate how women makers created variation within established patterns. And a collection of items used to plan and execute these objects–such as a hand-drawn embroidery pattern–illustrate the complexity, nuance, and mathematical formulas required by the craft. Such examples reveal how women needleworkers used the linear system of the sampler as a site of innovation, working “between the lines” of convention to express their individuality.”
Eliza Fisher (American), Sampler, 1824, silk and wool threads on linen ground,
transfer from Vassar College Libraries, Special Collections,
Martha Clawson Reed Collection, 1997.7.164
Link to event
Welsh Samplers & Embroidery
February to April 15, 2023
10am - 4pm Wednesday to Friday,
10am - 1pm on Saturdays
Facebook post (February 2, 2023) about a sampler exhibition at the Radnorshire Museum in Powys, Wales from February to April 15, 2023. Entitled “Samplers and Embroidery,” the exhibition tells the story of sampler making in Wales using objects from the Radnorshire Museum collections. On display is a selection of colorful and finely work textiles, with particular focus on a set of samplers made by three generations of the same local family – the Vaughan-Whitalls. The Radnorshire Museum in eastern Wales collects, preserves and interprets the rich cultural heritage of the old shire county of Radnorshire. The museum is open from 10am - 4pm Wednesday to Friday, and 10am - 1pm on Saturdays.
Link to site
Sweet Bags: Investigating 16th & 17th Century Needlework
A lecture by Jacqui Carey
March 19, 2023
On March 19, 2023 at 2:00 pm Eastern the Great Lakes Region (GLR) of The Embroiderers’ Guild of America will host a zoom presentation by Jacqui Carey entitled “Sweet Bags: Investigating 16th & 17th Century Needlework”. Jacqui is the author of “Sweet Bags: An Investigation into 16th & 17th Century Needlework and Elizabethan Stitches: A Guide to Historic English Needlework, available for £29.95 from her website careycompany.com. The book explores the history of sweet bags and their uses, examines more than 30 examples from British museums, and analyzes their construction and stitches. Jacqui’s lecture on sweet bags is open to members of Great Lakes Region (GLR) of the EGA, but guests will be admitted if there is room. Contact GLR Online Education Coordinator, Jana Bass at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Link to Event
March 25, 2023 at 9:00 am
The Queen City Sampler Guild announces an upcoming zoom lecture on Saturday March 25, 2023 at 10:00 am Eastern time entitled “Quaker Education Through the Eye of a Needle”. The lecture will be presented by Mary Brooks, former Archivist (now retired) of Westtown School, a Quaker boarding school in Chester County, Pennsylvania founded in 1799 by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Westtown is well-known for the many different types of samplers that 19th century girls learned to stitch while attending the school – samplers that reflect the educational and religious mission of the school. In 2015 Mary published a book about Westtown samplers entitled “Threads of Useful Learning: Westtown School Samplers”. It contains information and images of more that 140 flat samplers as well as embroidered terrestrial and celestial globes – a form of schoolgirl needlework unique to the school. The Queen City Sampler Guild, based in Cincinnati Ohio, is a nonprofit educational organization whose purpose is “to promote the art of sampler making, both historic and contemporary, the study of sampler history, and the preservation of antique samplers”. If not a member, a membership application form is online at their website and the annual membership fee is $30. Zoom invitations will go out to all members two days prior to the lecture. Website for the Queen City Sampler Guild is: queencitysg.org
Link to Event
“Dechados”: Mexican Samplers Across Time and Space
April 4, 2023, 7:00 pm Central Time
On Tuesday April 4, 2023, 7:00 pm Central Time Lynne Anderson will give a virtual presentation on Mexican samplers to the members of the Tudor Rose Sampler Guild. Entitled “Dechados: Mexican Samplers Across Time and Space” the presentation will discuss the richly embroidered “dechados” made by girls and young women in Mexico and the evolving role of needlework in early female education. Lynne will highlight motifs unique to Mexican samplers and the sequence of needlework lessons that led to Mexico’s most distinctive schoolgirl embroideries. In addition, she will introduce a few Mexican girls who proudly claimed ownership of their work, leaving stitched signatures that reveal identity, geographic location, and even socio-economic status. Lynne is the Director of the national Sampler Archive Project and President of the Sampler Consortium. The Tudor Rose Sampler Guild is based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. Since the pandemic, however, its monthly meetings have been held virtually and are open to all members, regardless of geographic location. Membership is $40/year and provides access to all lectures as well as other benefits. Newcomers can request to attend a meeting prior to joining by filling out their contact form.
Link to Event
Samplers from Hadley, MA
April 23, 2023 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm ET
The Hadley Historical Society in Hadley, Massachusetts announces they are hosting a lecture by Lynne Anderson on April 23, 2023 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm ET at the Hadley Public Library. Titled “Samplers and Sampler Makers from Hadley” Lynne will discuss and illustrate the various types of schoolgirl samplers that were produced during the 18th and 19th centuries in and near the town of Hadley, with emphasis on the diverse formats, motifs, and needlework techniques. In addition, recent research has revealed new information about local schools and teachers, as well as family connections among the many sampler makers who used needle and thread to demonstrate their skills. On display will be an exhibit of ten samplers from the Hadley Historical Society’s collection (dating 1795 to 1853), along with biographical information on the young women who made them. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own samplers to the event if they would like to have Lynne examine them and share her observations.
Link to Event
Sampler ID Days in Vermont
First event: Shelburne Museum on April 21 and 22, 2023
Secont event: Vermont Historical Society in Barre on May 12 and 13, 2023
Posted on the Sampler Consortium’s website is an update of past accomplishments and recent funding support for the Vermont Sampler Initiative. Described are details surrounding the successful Sampler ID Days held November 18 & 19, 2022 at the Bennington Museum, locations and dates for upcoming Sampler ID Days in 2023, and receipt of a project grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. The latter will help offset expenses of hosting Sampler ID Days at four different locations in Vermont in 2023, an important step toward locating, photographing, and documenting schoolgirl samplers held in Vermont’s public and private collections and preparing them for in the Sampler Archive’s online database of American samplers. Please see the posting at the Sampler Consortium website for details about both past and future Sampler ID Days, including numbers and types of samplers photographed and documented and overall goals for the project. There is also a PDF promotional flyer that can be downloaded to share with other sampler collectors and lovers.
Link to Event
Stitched in Time
Opens December 3, 2022
This exhibition will be on view in the Len and Cyndy Alaimo Gallery
Needlework—which includes canvas work, lace, tambour, crewel work, silk embroidery, quilting, and counted stitch—played an important role in the homes and lives of many early Americans. Embellishing textiles with decorative stitches was one method in which the Founding Mothers contributed to their family’s household furnishings and enriched their homes and clothing with pattern, color, and beauty.
Sewing and mending everyday functional textiles such as bed and table linens, as well as clothing, was another means in which women contributed economically to their family. Stitching needlework projects was also an educational tool for young schoolgirls, and a creative outlet for many housewives.
American needlework reflects great diversity and regional variations. Many factors influenced distinct regional characteristics including the ethnic origins of the makers, trade and migration patterns, influential teachers and artists, current fashions, religious affiliations, geography, and even climate. “Stitched in Time” explores regional variations in American needlework of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the forces that molded them.
Memorial to Terry Family by Elizabeth Terry,
Marietta, Pennsylvania, 1836.
Museum Purchase, 1962.604.1
Map of the Eastern Half of the United States by Ann E. Colson,
Pleasant Valley School, Dutchess County, New York, 1809.
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund, 2019-70
Sampler by Mary Welsh,
Massachusetts, ca. 1770.
Museum Purchase, 1962-309
Link to event here
Presented by Margi Hofer, Museum Director and Vice President of the NYHS, it's a deep dive into Rosena Disery, a student at New York City’s African Free School, and her highly significant 1820 sampler. Hofer includes a great amount of information about the school and also its students along with fascinating information about the lives of Rosena, her husband and family - highly successful caterers in NYC. The New York Historical Society also holds the African Free School’s records and papers.
This sampler, and much information, is in the archives of our website. Put "rosena" in the search box upper right on any page of our site (of course you can use this for any other search). We are proud to have owned, researched, conserved and framed the sampler before NYHS acquired it, ten years ago.
Announcing a virtual lecture by Winterthur Research Fellow and Boston University PH.D candidate Mariah Gruner on Thursday May 13, 5:00 ET entitled “Stitching Property, Picturing Feminine Authority: Depictions of Architecture and Land in Nineteenth Century Schoolgirl Needlework.” In her presentation Mariah will explore possible meanings of depicting houses and terrain on schoolgirl samplers when, under the laws of coverture, most women could not own property. She interprets 19th century architectural samplers as sites for developing feminine visions of control (and even ownership) over the space of the house, not simply the home. She will also discuss ways to think about these property-oriented practices in spaces of settlement and enslavement and what meanings can be unfurled from free Black women's use of the form. In this latter context she will be discussing samplers by Ann Plato and Sarah Ann Major Harris, as well as a needlework picture marked only with "E.J." and "Natchez, Mississippi."
Article in The Magazine Antiques (July 3, 2020) by Dr. Gene R. Garthwaite
visit Bennington's website for more information on this sampler from 1835.
Check out a recorded Zoom presentation (in Spanish, password is: 0p%eR140) about school girl embroidery in Mexico City from the College of San Ignacio De Loyola, Vizcaínas, founded in 1767
National Museum of American History (NMAH) in Washington, DC.
The exhibition is one in many ways in which the various Smithsonian museums have chosen to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
The exhibition will be at the NMAH for two years, after which it will be a traveling exhibition and be on display at five to seven other museums in the country 2023-2025. https://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/girlhood-its-complicated?utm…
by Stacey Fraser
Lexington Historical Society, Massachusetts
by Aimee Newell
Luzerne County Historical Society, Pennsylvania