The Sampler Archive Project has attracted considerable attention from private collectors, many indicating a desire to have their samplers and pictorial embroideries documented and included in this online public database of American girlhood needlework. Some of these collectors are descendants of the sampler makers and have a few family heirlooms they wish to have documented and share with the public. Others have a passion for schoolgirl needlework and have amassed collections that rival those of public institutions and museums. Collectors of both types have brought their samplers to the project's Sampler ID Days (see the section of Sampler Statewide Initiatives for details) and their objects are gradually being documented and included in the Sampler Archive database. The first to appear will be objects in the private collections of individuals who participated in the Delaware Statewide Sampler Initiative.
In addition, the Sampler Archive Project works directly with private collectors who contact us with a desire to collaborate on photographing and documenting their collections of schoolgirl needlework. During Phase II of the Sampler Archive Project we have focused primarily on documenting the objects in two of these private collections. Each is described briefly below, and when completed will add an additional 395 objects to the Sampler Archive database.
Glee Krueger is well known to scholars of American schoolgirl needlework through her lectures and publications. One of the first books to look specifically at American samplers from a regional perspective was New England Samplers to 1840, written by her and published by Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts (Krueger, 1978). Samplers from New England states were organized into chapters by the century in which they were created and then discussed in groups, making connections by integrating historical and genealogical information. The text was accompanied by a large number of photographs and a list of approximately 550 New England schools and teachers, organized both chronologically and by state. In 1978, Glee Krueger also wrote the catalog accompanying the exhibition of the Theodore H. Kapnek collection at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. Although familiar with her contributions as a scholar, relatively few people know that Glee Krueger is also a major collector of schoolgirl needlework, amassing nearly 400 samplers and pictorial embroideries during her career, the vast majority of them American in origin, with a high percentage stitched by girls living in New England. The Sampler Archive Project is honored to be working with Glee and her daughter Whitney Krueger to photograph and document all of the American embroideries in this important collection.
Another major collector of girlhood needlework was Mary Jo Johnson whose diverse collection started in the early 1960s with a portfolio of unframed samplers purchased by her husband as a gift. This launched her love and addiction to girlhood embroidery! She continued to collect samplers for more than 40 years, adding special finds while traveling in the United States and in Europe. Of the 221 antique samplers in the Mary Jo Johnson collection, we have identified 44 objects as American, 150 as European, and another 27 for which additional research is needed to determine their place of origin. We are pleased to be working with the Johnson family to document and showcase all the American samplers in this collection.