The Sampler Consortium is an international membership organization dedicated to the study of historic samplers and related girlhood embroideries founded in June 2008. Membership in the Sampler Consortium is free and there are now more than 1200 members, representing 18 countries and all 50 U.S. states. Members include scholars from diverse disciplines, curators of museums and historical societies, genealogists, librarians, collectors, dealers, publishers, attorneys, needlework teachers, designers, and “stitchers”. Also represented are more than 35 museums or historical societies with collections of early girlhood needlework and more than 180 private collectors.
The Sampler Consortium has three major objectives:
- To advance the study of historic samplers and other girlhood embroideries;
- To increase access to information and research relevant to the study of historic samplers and girlhood embroideries;
- To design, develop, and support projects that advance the study of historic samplers and other girlhood embroideries.
Toward these ends, members of the Sampler Consortium have collaborated on a variety of activities and projects designed to increase communication within the historic sampler community and expand knowledge of historic samplers and antique sampler collections. These include:
SamplerCentral. Sampler Central is a collaborative bookmarking site, a portal to publically accessible web-based information and images related to the study of girlhood embroideries (e.g., online collections, blog posts, articles, conferences, new books etc.). More than 1300 web pages have been bookmarked, annotated, “tagged”, and shared with consortium members via monthly email blasts.
Sampler Collections Survey. Volunteers from the Sampler Consortium are working to locate major and minor sampler collections in museums and historical societies throughout the country. This effort has led to identifying 146 repositories housing a total of 12,790 samplers. Sampler Consortium members are also conducting statewide surveys of the cultural and heritage organizations within each state, with an eye for small collections in local historical societies that may have been missed during the nationwide survey (see Delaware Schoolgirl Sampler Initiative).
Sampler Archive Project. The Sampler Archive Project is a multi-year, multi-phase digital collections endeavor, leading to the eventual documentation and inclusion of all known American samplers in an online searchable database designed to showcase historic schoolgirl needlework and support scholarly inquiry. The Sampler Archive Project is funded by grants from National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and conducted collaboratively by the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and the University of Oregon’s Center for Advanced Technology in Education. Also collaborating are three pilot sites: the DAR Museum in Washington, DC; the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, and the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence. It is anticipated that samplers from our first three pilot sites will be available online in September 2014.
Delaware Schoolgirl Sampler Initiative. The Sampler Consortium collaborated with the Sampler Archive Project to conceptualize, finance, and conduct a statewide initiative designed to locate, document, and photograph schoolgirl samplers and pictorial embroideries in Delaware’s public and private collections. With funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum, members of the Sampler Consortium volunteered as documenters at three Sampler ID Day events in Delaware during the summer of 2013, one at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington, one at the Biggs Museum of Art in Dover, and one at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes. These events led to documentation and photography of nearly 250 samplers, many owned by private individuals and family descendents. With additional funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum and funding from the Coby Foundation, the Sampler Consortium collaborated with the Biggs Museum of American Art in the spring of 2014 to offer an exhibition of 60 Delaware samplers and conduct a three-day symposium of lectures, classes, and field trips. Entitled ‘Wrought with Careful Hand’: Ties of Kinship on Delaware Samplers, Sampler Consortium members also researched all 60 samplers and produced an accompanying catalog of the same name (Anderson & Allen, 2014 – for sale here at the Sampler Consortium website).
Publications. The Sampler Consortium has collaborated on three books, all of which are for sale at the Sampler Consortium website. The first was Samplers International (Anderson, 2011), an exhibition catalog written by Sampler Consortium founder Dr. Lynne Anderson to accompany a sampler exhibition at the Benton County Historical Society in the spring of 2011. The second was Columbia’s Daughters: Girlhood Embroidery of the District of Columbia, written by Sampler Consortium advisory board member Dr. Gloria Seaman Allen and published in 2012. The third is ‘Wrought with Careful Hand’: Ties of Kinship on Delaware Samplers written by Drs. Lynne Anderson and Gloria Allen, and published in 2014. In addition to the books’ authors, many Sampler Consortium members contributed to all three publications by helping to document the samplers, identify stitches, conduct genealogical and historical research, write specific sections, and serve as editors.
The Sampler Consortium is a collaborating partner on the Sampler Archive Project. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to the University of Delaware and the University of Oregon, the goal of the Sampler Archive Project is to create an online searchable database of information and images for all known American samplers and related girlhood embroideries.
Please visit the Sampler Archive Project website for more information.