A Maryland Sampling: Girlhood Embroidery 1738-1860

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One of the nation’s premier textile scholars discusses more than 500 samplers and embroideries, most never before published. Reflecting Maryland’s rich mix of ethnic and religious cultures, they provide glimpses into the lives of young women from Colonial times to the eve of the Civil War.

Some samplers contain registers of family history; others are memorial or mourning samplers. Poems, moral precepts and biblical verses abound. Especially engaging are the samplers with "busy yards," populated by animals, birds and people. Exquisite silk pictorial embroideries were created under the tutelage of the Sisters of Charity at Saint Joseph’s Academy in Emmitsburg. Unique to Maryland are the embroideries worked by the children of free African-Americans taught by the Oblate Sisters, the world’s first order of black nuns. Quaker samplers are distinguished by broad compartmentalized borders filled with pairs of gorgeous flowers, butterflies and birds. Embroidered maps, all worked between 1797 and the early 1800s, form their own recognizable group.

Students of women’s history will be fascinated by the role of needlework in early female education. Modern day embroiderers will find inspiration in the designs. Collectors and antiques dealers have long awaited such a book.

2007, Gloria Seaman Allen, 384 pages, hardcover

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