Samplers Wrought by Girls, 1803, 1828
Courtesy, New Jersey Historical Society
Sampler by Sally Crane Hayes, age 9, 1803.
Sampler by Charlotte Tichenor, age 9, 1828.
After the Revolution, education for teenage girls became a more accepted concept, at least within the privileged families. Some of the several academies for boys which were founded in larger towns in New Jersey by 1810, also admitted girls, in separate departments. Newark Academy, for example, began admitting girls in 1802 and by 1807 had a separate girls’ department. The course of study offered girls was different from that of boys however. While boys were prepared the business or college, the girls were offered a “useful and ornamental” curriculum. At the very least it was expected that girls would become trained, if not skilled, in ornamental needlework.
The sampler was evidence of a girl’s success in mastering the basic elements of needlework. Some girls achieved the skill to embroider elaborate needlework pictures or samplers with detailed ornamentation. More common, however were simpler pieces which displayed an ability to cross-stitch or embroider the alphabet, or some inspiring verse. The two sampler’s shown here were worked by nine-year-old girls. Sally Crane Hayes, of Newark, worked her sampler on linen with several colors of silk thread in several different types of stitches. She used “A Hymn to the Seasons” by English poet, James Thompson, as her subject. The verse is embellished with flowers and leaves. Charlotte Tichenor, also of Newark, worked her sampler showing different alphabets and using green and rose silk thread on linen cloth. The work of these young girls shows considerable needlework proficiency at a young age that was valued by their families for many generations.