In October of 2008, The Mattatuck Museum hosted a daylong Sampler Symposium that resulted in the development of a database of area samplers that will add to our understanding of school girl activities in the region. Young girls who went to school in the early 19th century were usually given instruction in decorative accomplishments, rather than academic subjects. Samplers demonstrated a young girl's piety, her refinement and her ability to form the letters of the alphabet, which would be useful in marking the household bedding and kitchen fabrics she would make in anticipation of her marriage.
The symposium was organized in collaboration with the Litchfield Historical Society, and sponsored, in part, by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Featured were lectures by Glee Krueger, author and renowned folk art and needlework scholar, and Kate Barker, field service director at the Textile Conservation Workshop. The purpose of the symposium was to increase awareness among those responsible for similar collections in the region about the importance and care of these fragile textiles and to develop a wider understanding of their significance as records of important events in our community heritage. Representatives from area museums and historical societies, as well as private collectors were invited to bring samplers from their collections. The day-long event showcased examples created between 1784 and 1840 by young girls aged 9 to 20 who lived in nearby towns and cities before the Civil War. Information about each sampler was recorded and digital files were created. These samplers are now searchable in a database online. Our objective is to continue to add to the database with other samplers created in the Waterbury and Litchfield region. If you have an historic sampler, or if you know of anyone that may have one, please contact SFateh@mattatuckmuseum.org (Suzie Fateh).
Institutions represented at the symposium included the Connecticut Historical Society; Gunn Historical Museum, Washington, CT; Litchfield Historical Society, CT; Monroe Historical Society, CT; Old Bethlehem Historical Society, CT; Shelton Historical Society, CT; Topsmead State Forest, Litchfield, CT; Torrington Historical Society, CT and Watertown Historical Society, CT. Institutions not represented at the symposium are also included in the database.
NOTE: Use the Quick Search box to retrieve a listing of samplers that meet your criteria (i.e., sampler, Woodbury sampler, etc.). Do not use the plural of "sampler". A search for "samplers" will return "No Results Found."