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A Group of Needlework Pictures and Samplers

Few records survive of early American girls’ lives. Samplers and needlework pictures are rare material manifestations of their daily experience. Through the repetitive movements of sewing, the makers of these works of art actively embodied values of diligence and patience…stitch after stitch after stitch.


While these objects were made in part as evidence of a girl’s industry, accomplishment, and taste, they also now speak to us as keepers of memory. They bridge the gap between history and the present through arresting color, texture, and pattern, as well as recorded dates and names, here including Hannah Carter, Ruthy Rogers, Rebecca Carter, and Hannah Staples. As an expression of shared identity and taste, needleworkers and their teachers created compositions that were variations of common themes, seen in the reiteration of houses, rolling hills, prettily dressed figures, and abundant plants and animals. These particular examples were all made in New England in the 1700s or early 1800s.

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