Artifact Spotlight: Sampler

Cross Stitch Sampler

This original cotton sampler is from the year 1778 and was created by Elizabeth Herbert, a 12-year-old girl.

Samplers:

The first known American sampler is from the year 1645 and was made in the Plymouth Colony by Loara Standish.  In the 1700s, samplers were the standard for young women to learn basic needlework skills.  The late 1700s and early 1800s produced more elaborate samplers with decorative motifs because young women were often attending schools or academies.  These decorative samplers would often be displayed as showpieces or art.

Samplers have recently become important as they are examples of early American female education.   Many are signed by the creator and inscribed with the location, names of their teachers, and the date.  These samplers have inspired a lot of research hoping to understand the lives of women in early America.

Early samplers often depicted the early Latin alphabet.  This alphabet differs from today’s because it did not include the letters ‘J’ and ‘U.’  Instead, the letters ‘I’ and ‘V’ were used.  The letter ‘S’ is also different on many samplers: it is replaced with the Printer’s ‘S,’ which looks a lot like the modern-day ‘f’ (American).

Our Sampler:

Special Collections’ Sampler reads, “Commit not sin but fear the living Lord. Elizabeth Herbert doter of Robert and Elizabeth Herbert. Her sampler markest in the year of our Lord 1778, aged 12 years.”

Additional Information:

A previous blog post was written about this artifact and can be found here.  This post includes more specific information about our particular sampler.

Source:

“American Samplers.” National Museum of American History. Smithsonian, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

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