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.
- Man in fawn-colored fall-front trousers, short blue jacket decorated with faceted gilt beads, and tall dark hat. On his arm, lady wearing long dress with wide white collar and blue bonnet tied with long bonnet-strings; she carries parasol and reticule and wears necklace or chain of gilt beads. To right of couple, blue-domed building (temple?) with tall columns on hill above pond, with two deer and flowering bush; to left of couple large tree and under it, sheep and dog. In each upper corner, bluebird under grapevine; children's names enclosed in panel outlined by wave band. Grapes on vines in upper corners worked by coiling purple thread and tacking down each coil in two or three places. Border on all four sides, straight vine bearing roses and rose buds. Silk embroidery thread on linen ground. STITCHES: cross, crosslet, chain, four-sided, French knot. THREAD COUNT: warp 28, weft 28/in.
- "FAMILY RECORD
- Mr Levi Ingersoll was born Dec 26th 1775
Miss Sarah Hubbard was born Jan 2nd 1779
They were united in marriage Jan 31 1802
- THEIR DESCENDANTS
- Hannah Ingersoll was born Jan 30th 1803
Eliza Ingersoll was born Oct 30th 1804
Ann Ingersoll was born Nov 1st 1806
Henry H Ingersoll was born Feb 25th 1809
Charles Ingersoll was born Jan 23rd 1811
Jane Ingersoll was born July 1st 1815
Mary Ingersoll was born Sept 27th 1819 [last 2 numbers replaced or filled in later]
Sarah Ingersoll was born Feb 10th 1821 [last number replaced or filled in later]
- By Miss Mary Ingersoll in the 9th year of her age New York 1830" [number 9 replaced or filled in later]
- Mary was born on September 27, 1819, to Levi and Sarah Hubbard Ingersoll in Pound Ridge, New York. She died unmarried on April 18, 1889.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- associated dates
- Ingersoll, Mary
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center