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.
- At center, an inscribed monument with stepped top surmounted by sphere. Behind monument, weeping willow tree with crooked trunk; above monument and tree are five sprays of flowers, including roses, rosebuds, tulips, carnations, and star-flowers, with leaves; two sprays are tied with blue bows. At lower corners, two weeping willow trees that, like the monument, stand on ground of French knots. Silk embroidery thread on linen ground. STITCHES: satin, straight, split, French knot, stem, cross, crosslet. THREAD COUNT: warp 28, weft 26/in.
- "To the memory of
Guni Goodale who
was born March 9th
and departed this life
Jan 27th 1832 aged 52.
- There remaineth there-
fore a rest to the peo-
ple of God.
- Amanda F. Goodale 1832."
- Amanda F. Goodale was born ca. 1818 to Guni (1780-1832) and Ann (1776-1864) Goodale in Glastonbury, Connecticut. On July 11, 1848, she was married to Henry Magill (1809-1892), by Rev. Charles R. Fisher. Henry was a farmer. Ann Goodale is living with Henry and Amanda in the 1850 census. Amanda died February 4, 1892 in Windsor, Connecticut.
- Her sampler was probably worked at Miss Cornwall’s school in Glastonbury, Connecticut. All the motifs on her sampler can be found on other samplers worked at Miss Cornwall’s school.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- associated dates
- Goodale, Amanda F.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center