Statewide Sampler Initiatives

Delaware Schoolgirl Sampler Initiative (2012-2016)

In the fall of 2012 the Sampler Archive Project launched the Delaware Schoolgirl Sampler Initiative, a search for schoolgirl needlework samplers in Delaware's public and private collections. With funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum and the Sampler Consortium, the project conducted seven Sampler Identification and Documentation Days (Sampler ID Days), held at Delaware museums, but open to the public, five in 2013 and two in 2014. One additional Sampler ID Day was held in 2015 and another in 2016, both funded by private resources. These efforts resulted in locating, photographing, and documenting more than 330 samplers, most of them American. Approximately 25% of the documented samplers are owned by Delaware museums and historical societies, with 75% owned by descendants of the sampler makers or private sampler collectors.

In the spring of 2014, with generous funding from the Coby Foundation, the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover and the Sampler Consortium hosted a six-week exhibition of Delaware samplers entitled Wrought with Careful Hand: Ties of Kinship on Delaware Samplers (March 7 – April 21), as well as a three-day sampler symposium March 21-23. Funding from the Coby Foundation also supported publication of a 96-page, full color exhibition catalog co-authored by Lynne Anderson and Gloria Seaman Allen, with assistance from a host of other Sampler Consortium members. Investigation into Delaware samplers by Gloria Seaman Allen and her research team continues, with anticipation of a Fall 2017 publication for an exhaustive book on the samplers and sampler makers of America's "first state." All American samplers from the Delaware Statewide Sampler Initiative have been included in the Sampler Archive database and will be available to the public soon.

Rhode Island Sampler Initiative (2015 – present)

The Rhode Island Sampler Initiative (RISI) was launched by Dr. Blaire Gagnon in 2015 with a small award from the University of Rhode Island's Center for Humanities to conduct a statewide email survey of the state's cultural and historical institutions, revealing the existence of more than 190 samplers in the state's public institutions. In March 2015, the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the Sampler Consortium hosted a one-day Sampler Documentation Workshop by Dr. Lynne Anderson that drew 24 participants from across the state, as well as Massachusetts and New Jersey. A 2016 award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities has supported four Sampler ID Days in "South County", two hosted by the University of Rhode Island, one by the South County Museum, and one by the Babcock Smith House Museum. A total of 114 samplers and related schoolgirl embroideries were photographed and documented at these events. A second proposal submitted to the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities hopes to build on this effort by conducting additional Sampler ID Days in "South County" as well as expanding into Newport County, culminating with a small exhibition at the Gilbert Stuart Museum. All schoolgirl American samplers documented by the Rhode Island Sampler Initiative will be included in the Sampler Archive database and made available to the public.

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