Proudly displaying numerals and ABCs, scenes of faith and farm life, Bible verses and witticisms, the samplers embroidered by girls in colonial America not only brightened the home, but also shone the light of literacy into the needleworkers’ young lives.
To bring these historic American treasures to the public eye, the University of Delaware in collaboration with the University of Oregon is now launching the Sampler Archive Project, a major effort to build a national digital archive and searchable database of samplers stitched by American girls in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. UD won a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop the resource.
“This project brings two great universities with deep strengths in American material culture and advanced digital technology together with a consortium of curators and collectors passionate about the study of historic samplers,” notes Garrison, who serves as the project’s leader. “We hope to do for American samplers what has been done for American quilts, creating another important portal into the nation’s heritage.”
Garrison’s co-investigators include Lynne Anderson, associate professor at the Center for Advanced Technology in Education at the University of Oregon; Patricia Keller, who earned both her master’s degree in American material culture and doctorate in American civilization at UD; and Linda Eaton, curator of textiles at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, the museum of American decorative arts established by Henry Francis du Pont in Delaware.
The team begins work this summer with Winterthur’s 125 samplers, to be followed later by the sampler collections of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Washington, D.C., and the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence.
Digitization: "U. of Delaware Leads National Project to Create Digital Archive of Early American Samplers"
Filed by July 5, 2011on