Article in the Westerly Sun newspaper (July 4, 2016) by Nancy Burns-Fusaro about the “South County Sampler Initiative”, newly funded by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. The goal of the initiative is to locate, photograph, and document schoolgirl samplers in the public and private collections of Washington County, Rhode Island (locally known as “South County”). The South County Sampler Initiative is directed by Jackie Brennan of the Babcock-Smith House Museum in Westerly, along with the South County Museum in Narragansett, and the University of Rhode Island in Kingstown. Funds will be used to support three Sampler ID Days (one at each site) where the public is invited to bring in their historic schoolgirl needlework for documentation and inclusion in the Sampler Archive Project. The first of the three Sampler ID Days was held on July 23 at the University of Rhode Island and volunteers documented approximately 50 samplers. Upcoming are two more Sampler ID Days, one at the South County Museum on August 27th and one at the Babcock-Smith House on October 1st. The article includes multiple images of samplers in the historic Babcock-Smith House Museum, including two samplers by Emeline Gallup. For a flyer advertising all three Sampler ID Days, please see the announcement at the Sampler Consortium website: http://samplerconsortium.org/index.html.
Announcing an exhibition at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY entitled “The Instruction of Young Ladies: Arts from Private Girls' Schools and Academies in Early America” (September 24 – December 31, 2016). Curated by Robert Shaw, the exhibition will showcase the full range of schoolgirl and female academy work, while at the same time exploring the history of private female education in the United States, and the key role of women educators in the growth of this country’s educational system. On display will be samplers, mourning pieces, pictorial needlework (some combined with watercolor); painted boxes, tables and a violin; maps, penmanship drawings and exercises; watercolor theorems, landscapes and biblical and literary scenes; as well as needlework and theorem decorated reticules, fans, and pillows. The purpose is twofold; to show examples of schoolgirl work that rise to the level of art; and to put them, and the schools in which they were produced, into context in a way that shows their contribution to the world of American art. The three best known and most spectacular samplers in the exhibition are by Mary Antrim (1795-1884) of Burlington County, NJ; Mary B. Danforth (1807-1848) of Manchester, MA; and Caroline E. Bieber (1827 – 1885) of Kutztown, PA, stitched under the direction of Elizabeth B. Mason, (1797 – 1875). Objects in the exhibition are drawn from the Jane Katcher Collection of American Folk Art, and from the collections of the Fenimore Museum, DAR Museum, Henry Ford Museum, Historic Deerfield, the Long Island Museum, Maine Historical Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Shelburne Museum, Sturbridge Village, and the Yale University Art Gallery. A full color catalog of the exhibition is in production, with essays by both Robert Shaw and Jane Katcher. In addition, two lunchtime lectures by Paul D'Ambrosio, President and CEO, are scheduled for October 12 and October 19.
Announcing the 2016 Winterthur Needlework Conference entitled "Embroidery: The Language of Art", scheduled for October 14 and 15, 2016. The conference offers a series of provocative lectures, innovative workshops, and tours that explore the connection of art and embroidery over four centuries, as well as women's roles as artists and their choice of embroidery as an artistic medium. Sampler Consortium members providing lectures during the two-day conference include Tricia Wilson Nguyen, speaking on the topic of "Professional vs Amateur: The Economics of Embroidery"; Susan Schoelwer speaking on the topic "Image and Identity in the New Republic: The Elusive Art of Silk Embroidery"; and Amelia Peck on "Candace Wheeler (1827-1923): Making Art Embroidery Work for Women". Optional field trips and classes include a trip to Westtown Boarding School hosted by Mary Uhl Brooks; and sampler classes offered by Joanne Harvey, Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Lynn Hulse, and Margriet Hogue. The conference complements an exhibition by the same name that looks at how the creation of embroidered objects fits into the changing definitions of art, craft, and design throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Objects in the exhibition will be on display until January 7, 2017.
In April M. Finkel and Daughter introduced their new online catalog, replacing the print version that has been published two times a year for decades. The online version of Samplings is free to everyone, and has a more interactive format. Users see the same gorgeous images and well researched text. In addition, however, they are able to enlarge, download, print, share, and search. The first issue is 80 pages in length and showcases the work of 38 girls, including three from Norfolk England. Ultimately, the plan is to electronically archive all 48 catalogs previously published in print, which will greatly enhance their use for reference and enable search across catalogs.
On sale at Whitney Antiques - a full color catalog illustrating fifty samplers from their exhibition this summer (June 27 – July 17, 2016) entitled ‘Now While My Hands Are Thus Employed': Three Centuries of Historic Samplers. Samplers in the exhibition cut across all levels of society embracing both the affluent and the poor, and stood as testaments to the skill and perseverance of the young and the talent of their teachers. Whether worked with a view to future employment, for pleasure, or as preparation for being the mistress of household, the samplers on display illuminated the lives of girls and young women of the 17th, 18th, and the 19th centuries. Many of the historic pieces were from private collections, and all were for sale. Cost of the catalog is £18 plus shipping.
Announcing an exhibition of schoolgirl samplers at the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg, TX beginning May 2 and ending July 30, 2016. The exhibit will showcase forty schoolgirl samplers and discuss their role in helping to teach reading, writing, math, and geography in early country schools. The exhibit has been organized by Evelyn Weinheimer and Jane Woellhof to support the 2016 Conference of the Country School Association of America (to be held June 19 - 22, 2016 at the museum) and is aligned with the conference theme "On the Land-Learning at Hand." Most of the 40 needlework objects on display are antique, including eight historic samplers from the Pioneer Museum's collection. These samplers bear the family names of early settlers to the area and have stimulated a genealogical search for their makers. Keynote speaker at the CSAA conference is Vicki LoPiccolo Jennet, Arizona needlewoman and author of "A Schoolroom Alphabet" (2014) and "Sonoran Borders: Threads of Friendship" (2013). The Pioneer Museum is open Monday through Saturday and there is a small admission fee.
Announcing the 4th annual Penn Dry Goods Market antiques show, sale, exhibit, and lecture series May 13 and 14, 2016 – a fundraising event for the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA. At least 24 dealers will be displaying their wares, including several known for having outstanding samplers in their inventory (e.g. Van Tassel Baumann Antiques, Neverbird Antiques, RSG Antiques, and Rose Berry). A number of sampler scholars will be speaking, including Kim Ivey on needlework from the early south; Dan & Marty Campanelli on New Jersey samplers, schools, and teachers; Sheryl De Jong on the history of American embroidery; Kathy Staples on six samplers in the pension files of the National Archives; Susan Schoelwer on the needlework of Martha Washington; and Kathy Lesieur on woolwork samplers of the Lehigh Valley. On exhibit will be the Schwenkfelder Townscape wool embroidered pictures, accompanied by artifacts depicted in the Townscapes. Advanced registration is recommended.
Announcing a schoolgirl sampler exhibition at the Warren County Historical Society in Lebanon, Ohio. On display from March 1 to September 3, 2016 are a dozen 19th century samplers from Warren County, Ohio, including three newly discovered samplers from Waynesville School. According to Vicky Van Harlingen, Executive Director, the three Waynesville samplers are new to the historical society’s collection and are all well documented as to their origin. The Waynesville School was founded in 1802 by members of Ohio’s Miami Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, at one time the largest Quaker Monthly Meeting in the United States. Two of its earliest teachers were Elizabeth and Susan B. (Mrs. Jonathan) Wright who had been educated at Westtown School in PA. Samplers believed to have been stitched under their instruction include motifs and medallions typical of samplers stitched at other Quaker schools, including Westtown. The Warren County Historical Society is open daily Tuesday through Saturday and there is a small admission fee.
Blog post on Winterthur Unreserved (February 25, 2016) discussing three schoolgirl embroideries in the Winterthur Museum collection that were stitched by African American girls. The first is a needlework picture by Rachel Ann Lee dated July 3, 1846 and worked at the Sisters of Providence School in Baltimore, MD. The second is an 1852 sampler made by Olevia Rebecca Parker at the Lombard Street School in Philadelphia. And the third is a verse sampler stitched by Mary D’Silver in 1793 at the Negro School in Philadelphia. Also known as the Negro Charity School, it was established in 1786 by Dr. Bray’s Associates, one of several attempts by the British-run philanthropic organization to open schools in America for African American children. Because the sampler was found in England it is assumed to have been a gift to one of the organization’s British benefactors. The verse on Mary’s sampler is from a 1773 poem by English poet Anna Laetitia (Aikin) Barbauld known as The Mouse’s Petition, and is a plea for compassion. The blog post contains family information about each of the three girls and images of their needlework.
Online article (March 9, 2016) in the Young Witness, an Australian newspaper, about an 1826 sampler stitched by Elizabeth Sarah Witham in England when she 10 years old. Elizabeth married carpenter and laborer Henry Hobson and the couple migrated from London to Australia aboard the “Palestine”, arriving in Sydney on March 7, 1842. They eventually settled in Young, Australia and raised eight children. Elizabeth’s house and verse sampler was recently donated to the Young Lambing Flat Folk Museum, run by the Young Historical Society. It had been handed down through the family for generations and was donated in honor of Norma Campbell, believed to be a distant relative of Elizabeth’s and the last family member to own the sampler. On hand to receive the gift were some of Elizabeth’s many descendants and relatives living in the Young area.
Announcing an exhibition of darning samplers and related needlework in the Constance Howard Gallery of Whitelands College, University of Roehampton (Jan. 19 – March 10, 2016). On display is a rare collection of needlework objects stitched by female students of Whitelands College, the first all-women teacher training college in England. The women were from working-class families and were training to teach in elementary schools for working-class children. Drawn from the college’s own collection, the objects focus on the production and repair of simple garments and household textiles. The centerpiece is an album compiled by Kate Stanley, Head Governess from 1876-1902, containing 26 darning samplers and 17 plain needlework samplers on which the stitching is extraordinarily fine. In addition, there are a number of loose samplers and a variety of small-scale practice garments, made as an economical and timesaving way to learn new techniques. Whitelands College had a reputation for training excellent teachers who excelled in the teaching of needlework, and graduates were hired to teach in schools and training colleges across the British Empire. Linked to the website announcement is a 12-page exhibition catalog called a “leaflet” that contains more information and excellent images of the objects on display.
Announcing an exhibition in the Folk Art Gallery in the Peoria Riverfront Museum of quilts and samplers stitched by Midwestern girls and women. The exhibition opened Nov. 25, 2015 and will continue until March 20, 2016. Curated by Kristan McKinsey, all objects on display were drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, which includes a total of eight embroidered samplers. The exhibition showcases six of these samplers, one of which was acquired as a gift in 2015. The samplers on view date from 1831 to 1866 and five were stitched by girls known to have been living in Illinois. Two of the Illinois samplers were made in Peoria, both dated May 1866 and most likely stitched under the instruction of the same teacher. Other Illinois towns represented include Jacksonville in Morgan County (Sarah Allinson, 1849) and Burton in Adams County (Louisa Richards, 1855).
Announcing a sampler exhibition in the Payne Hurd Gallery of the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, PA. Curated by well-known sampler scholar Kathy Staples, the exhibition opened December 30, 2015 and will continue until May 29, 2016. Drawing from the important embroidery collections at the museum, the exhibition presents fifteen embroidered samplers and silkwork pictures stitched by Pennsylvania girls and young women. From elegant and exuberant to plain and neat, these embroideries reflect important aspects of the lives of their makers-their educational accomplishments, religious convictions, and ties of kinship. Among the objects on view are eight embroideries dating from 1802 to 1887, all of whose makers were related by blood or marriage to the their donor, Hope Randolph Hacker (1908-2002). On May 15 at 1:00 pm the museum will honor Ms. Hacker with a lecture by exhibition curator Kathy Staples entitled "Family Reunion: A Celebration of the Sampler Legacy of Hope Randolph Hacker." The museum's website announcement includes images of three samplers from the exhibition.
Announcing a fall 2016 tour of museums and other sampler repositories throughout southern England led by Mary Hickmott, well-known needlework designer, teacher, and former publisher of the magazine ‘New Stitches’. The two-week tour begins September 22 and ends October 5, 2016. The tour will start at Heathrow Airport and include visits to see samplers and other needlework objects in the following collections: Muller House Museum in Bristol, Gloucester Folk Museum, Somerset County Museum, Wells Museum, Fashion Museum, Montacute House, Georgian House Museum, Ashmolean Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum, Guildford Museum, Maidstone Museum, Whitney Antiques, Royal School of Needlework, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, where there is also a special exhibition of English medieval embroidery known as Opus Anglicanum. Although not mentioned in this post, the tour will also include a morning at the home of Michael and Elizabeth Feller to meet them and view their collection, including 16th and 17th century embroidery such as stumpwork and blackwork as well as more recent samplers. The price for the tour is £2290 per person and includes four-star hotels with breakfast and dinner every day, all travel and all entrance fees to museums and historic houses, as well as special talks given by experts in their field. Booking is online.
An exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (Nov. 16, 2015 – Feb. 15, 2016) showcased 30 samplers from the United States and multiple countries throughout Europe. All 30 objects were drawn from the museum’s collection of more than 800 samplers - selected to emphasize their practical character and value. Each displays skills and knowledge acquired during the educational process and preserves this expertise for future reference. High-resolution images and detailed information for all 30 samplers showcased in the exhibition are posted online. Among the objects on display (and illustrated on their website) are multiple examples of 17th century needlework from England and the Netherlands; samplers stitched at English charity and mission schools (including one with text in Tamil as well as English); map samplers; Shaker and Quaker samplers (including one made at Westtown School); and samplers demonstrating various types of learning (including a sampler demonstrating compound division and one listing the counties of England). The exhibition was designed to complement Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution, 1520–1620 which was on display in the same museum Oct. 20, 2015 – Jan. 20, 2016 – and there is a link to that exhibition’s objects.
Announcing a new digital format for the familiar Samplings catalog produced twice a year by well-known sampler dealer M. Finkel & Daughter in Philadelphia. Beginning with Volume XLIX (49), the catalog will be digital and available online at no cost. In addition to featuring outstanding works that haven’t yet been showcased on their website, the new format is designed to be interactive in ways that enable users to enlarge, download, print, share, and search across the objects presented. Equally exciting is the fact that Amy Finkel plans to digitize and archive the prior 48 printed catalogues, which will significantly increase ease of access to their content for research and reference. To receive email updates of when the new digital catalog is available for viewing be sure you have joined the M. Finkel & Daughter email list.
Article by TraceyR in the Blackmore Vale Magazine (posted online Feb. 29, 2016) announcing that 37 historic samplers from the Goodhart collection are now on display in the newly refurbished Brown Room at Montacute House in Somerset, England. Many of the samplers had been in storage for more than a year while their new home was being prepared, enabling the samplers to hang together in one location. Many of the samplers were stitched in the 17th century and are very fragile. The new exhibition space includes LED lighting and each light has its own dimmer switch, allowing the team at Montacute to regulate and monitor the amount of light falling on the samplers. The Goodhart Sampler Collection was donated to the National Trust in the 1980s by Dr. Douglas Goodhart, who had a passion for collecting samplers throughout his adult life. For more information about the Goodhart Collection see “The Goodhart Samplers,” a book published by Needleprint in 2008.
Article by Dan and Marty Campanelli entitled “Mary Ann Goodrich’s Sampler: Chronicling the Beginning and End of a Wethersfield Family” was published in American Ancestors, Volume 16, #4, Fall 2015 (access requires membership). Article describes the genealogical research conducted by the Campanellis when investigating the family background of a sampler originally stitched in 1816 by ten-year old Mary Ann Goodrich (1806 - 1828) at the Academy on High Street in Wethersfield CT. The Campanellis tell the story of Mary Ann’s early death in 1828 and a mother’s dedication to completing her daughter’s sampler by stitching information about the deaths of all members of her family, including the preparation needed so her own death could be recorded. Also included is an excellent history of the sampler’s known previous owners and exhibition history.
Announcing MESDA's 2016 Textile Symposium entitled "Interwoven Georgia: Three Centuries of Textile Traditions" to be held January 14 - 16, 2016 in Athens, GA. Although scheduled to coincide with the sampler exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art (Georgia's Girlhood Embroidery: "Crowned with Glory and Immortality"), the symposium focus is broader and celebrates 250 years of Georgia's rich textile heritage - from 18th-century silk production to girlhood embroideries, bed furnishings, the contributions of African Americans to textile production, and chenille fashions of the 20th century. The program includes numerous well-known speakers such as Dale Couch, Jenny Garwood, Laurel Horton, Madelyn Shaw, Kathleen Staples, and Lynn Tinley, and will conclude with a catalog signing by Kathleen Staples. Preregistration is required and the cost is $345.
Announcing a sampler exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA (Oct. 31, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016) entitled Georgia’s Girlhood Embroidery: “Crowned with Glory and Immortality”. The exhibition was co-curated by well-known sampler scholar Kathleen Staples and Dale Couch, the museum’s Curator of Decorative Arts. On display are about two-dozen samplers stitched in the state of Georgia or by Georgian schoolgirls from the mid-18th century to about 1860. In addition to samplers from the museum’s own collection, the exhibition showcases samplers on loan from public and private collections, including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), the Midway Museum, the Charleston Museum, the Telfair Museums, St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah, and the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. Each of the samplers is well researched and has a story to tell. For example, the sampler worked by Martha “Patsey” Bonner McKenzie (1775–1851) was used as evidence by its maker to claim a Revolutionary War widow’s pension. The sampler stitched by Eliza S. Blunt showcases an embroidered architectural structure that may illustrate the Eatonton Academy of Putnam County, built around 1807. Accompanying this announcement are images and information for five of the exhibition samplers, representing girls from diverse geographic areas and socio-economic environments. A fully illustrated exhibition catalog published by the museum is on sale.