The earliest known American sampler was made by Loara Standish of the Plymouth Colony about 1645. By the 1700s, samplers depicting alphabets and numerals were worked by young women to learn the basic needlework skills needed to operate the family household. By the late 1700s and early 1800s, schools or academies for well-to-do young women flourished, and more elaborate pieces with decorative motifs such as verses, flowers, houses, religious, pastoral, and/or mourning scenes were being stitched. The parents of these young women proudly displayed their embroideries as showpieces of their work, talent, and status.
In recent years, samplers have become important in museum collections as representations of early American female education. Many are signed, and some are inscribed with locations and the names of teachers and schools. The emergence of large numbers of these samplers has resulted in much research in diaries, account books, letters, newspaper ads, local histories, and published commentary that is helping to illuminate the lives of women in early America.
Many early samplers do not have the letters “J” and “U” in their alphabets because they were not part of the early Latin alphabet and so the letter “I” was used for “J” and the “V” for “U.” The letter “s” is often replaced with the printers “s” which looks like the modern f.
There are 137 American samplers in the Textile Collection. The first was donated in 1886, the Margaret Dinsmoor sampler. In the 1890s the Copp Collection was received and it contained two samplers—one by Esther Copp and the other by her great niece Phebe Esther Copp. (The Copp Collection is an extensive collection of 18th-and 19th- century household textiles, costume items, furniture, and other pieces belonging to the Copps, a prosperous but frugal Connecticut family.) The earliest dated sampler in the collection was made in 1735 by Lydia Dickman of Boston, Massachusetts.
"American Samplers - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- Five block alphabets of 26 letters, numbers to 14. Each row of alphabets and numbers different color. All these rows separated by narrow geometric crossbands. Border of geometric strawberry vine and single row of herringbone stitch on all four sides. Silk embroidery thread on linen ground. STITCHES: cross, crosslet, long-armed cross, satin, herringbone, eyelet, four-sided, rice, queen, hem. THREAD COUNT: warp 28, weft 28/in.
- Youth like f[s]oftened Wax, with Eaf[s]e will take
Thof[s]e Images that firf[s]t impref[s]sions make.
If thof[s]e are fair, their Actions will be bright,
If foul, they'll clouded be with Shades of Night.
- Ann Louisa Ghequiere [f]inished in her 9th year."
- Ann Louisa was born about 1792 to Charles and Harriet Halley Ghequiere in Baltimore, Maryland. She married Dr. Martin Fenwick of West River, Maryland, on August 21, 1815, at St. Peter Pro-Cathedral in Baltimore, Maryland. The marriage was performed by Archbishop John Carroll, with whom her father had been friendly for many years. They had four children—;Harriet, Louisa Claire, Chloe, and Henry. Ann Louisa died on February 22, 1864 in West River.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Chequiere, Ann Louisa
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center