Launched in the fall of 2022, the Dutchess County Sampler Initiative is a county-wide effort to locate, photograph, and document American schoolgirl samplers in the museums, historical societies, and private collections of Dutchess County, New York. The initiative is supported by the Dutchess County Historical Society and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, in collaboration with the Sampler Consortium. The initiative is also on the lookout for any sampler with Dutchess County origins, even though it may now reside in other parts of the state or the nation.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Dutchess County supported an increasingly prosperous collection of farming and industrial communities, enticing waves of settlers from both Europe and across New England. Growing prosperity and the influence of a large Quaker population led to an expansion of opportunities for educating girls and young women in the county, especially in the first half of the 1800s. The prestigious Quaker Nine Partner’s Boarding School flourished at this time, drawing students from as far away as Nantucket and Canada, and producing a great many distinctive schoolgirl samplers. Also well known was the Pleasant Valley Boarding School, whose students made highly detailed map samplers. At the same time, female academies and seminaries both large and small were numerous throughout the county. The Dutchess County Sampler Initiative hopes to learn more about the county’s early schools and teachers and to uncover many previously unknown examples of schoolgirl needlework produced in Dutchess County communities.
All American samplers and related schoolgirl embroideries uncovered by the Dutchess County Sampler Initiative will be integrated into the nationally recognized Sampler Archive, a searchable online database of information and images of American schoolgirl needlework (samplerarchive.org). The Dutchess County Sampler Initiative has adopted two major approaches. For museums with high resolution images of the samplers in their collections, existing images and information can be integrated into the Sampler Archive database and then documented online by project volunteers using standardized protocols. For smaller collections and private owners, samplers can be brought to one of the project’s Sampler ID Days to be professionally photographed (free of charge) and documented by volunteers trained to record key physical characteristics and family history.
Two Sampler ID Days have already been scheduled for 2023. The first will take place at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3. The second will be hosted by the Wallace Center at the FDR Historic Site in Hyde Park September 8 and 9. For more details please see the accompanying flyer – which we encourage you to download and share widely with sampler owning friends and colleagues. We also encourage donations to this important project as funds are needed to pay for the professional photography essential for sharing these valuable artifacts of educational history and women’s material culture with scholars, curators, genealogists, descendants, needlework enthusiasts, and the general public.
For more information, please contact the Dutchess County Sampler Initiative’s two local coordinators: Stacy Whittaker ([email protected]) and Joanne Lukacher ([email protected]).
Below is a PDF flyer about the Dutchess County Sampler Initiative. Please feel free to click the download button and share with your network of sampler lovers and owners.