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.
- Family genealogy is centered above pair of weeping willow trees. At sides of sampler, vines with roses and buds twist around columns and continue upward forming an arch at top. One death record and worker's name at bottom, below weeping willow trees. Brown guidelines under all free embroidery. Silk embroidery thread on linen ground. STITCHES: four-sided, crosslet, cross, satin, straight, chain, stem. THREAD COUNT: warp 28, weft 31/in.
- Simeon Skillin born Cape Elizabeth, Me May 31 1787.
Nancy Adams born Castine, Me Aug 26, 1789.
Married Aug 16 1812.
Edward P Skillin born Portland Me April. 28 1813.
Charles P Skillin born Portland Me Aug 18 1814.
George W Skillin born Portland Me Dec 18 1816.
Simeon Skillin born Portland Me May 12 1818.
Robert Skillin born Portland Me Oct 31 1819.
Sarah A Skillin born Portland Me Jun 29 1821.
Silas B Skillin born Portland Me Oct 29 1822.
Oliver P Skillin born Portland Me May 19 1824.
Eliza M Skillin born Portland Me Dec 25 1826.
Nancy P Skillin born Portland Me Feb 25 1829.
Silas B Skillin born Portland Me Aug 26 1830.
Mary Skillin born Portland Me July 17 1831.
- Silas B Skillin died
APr. 25, 1826.
- By Sarah A Skillin
- Sarah Adams was born on June 29, 1821, to Simeon and Nancy Adams Skillin in Portland, Maine. Sarah married Smith C. Hadlock, a fisherman, on July 14, 1843, and died in Maine on January 8, 1889. They had eight children—Harriet A., Emma C., Nancy A., Samuel, Oliver E., Cyrena A., Henry B., and Sarah G.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- associated dates
- Skillin, Sarah A.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center