Video: The Vermont Sampler Initiative: Uncovering a Rich HeritagePresented by Dr. Lynne Anderson, Director of the Sampler Archive Project & president of the Sampler Consortium

For girls growing up in 18th and 19th-century Vermont, school was more than a place to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Plain and fancy needlework was an essential element of the curriculum, and all girls embroidered at least one sampler as part of their education—many embroidered two or more. Dr. Lynne Anderson will describe the Vermont Sampler Initiative’s efforts to locate, photograph, and document these schoolgirl samplers so they can be included in the nationally recognized Sampler Archive, an online database of American samplers and related girlhood embroideries. In addition, she will share some of the project’s important findings and conclusions, using the samplers as evidence. Of particular interest will be her focus on the variety of educational experiences and options available to Vermont’s early daughters, the diversity in needlework samplers that emerged under the instruction of Vermont’s female teachers, the impact of religion and community values on sampler format, and content, and how schoolgirl samplers from Vermont both reflect and participate in the larger New England experience.

Lynne Anderson is professor emeritus from the University of Oregon, where her research focused on technology applications in literacy for marginalized youth. Since her retirement in 2017 Lynne has been able to focus full time on her passion for historic schoolgirl samplers. She is founder and president of the Sampler Consortium, an international membership organization for people interested in the study of historic samplers. She is also Director of the Sampler Archive Project, a federally funded project to locate, photograph, and document all American samplers and related girlhood embroideries in public and private collections. In that capacity she launched the Delaware Sampler Initiative in 2012, which led to the exhibition, symposium, and catalog entitled Wrought with Careful Hand: Ties of Kinship on Delaware Samplers (2014), as well as an exhibition and comprehensive book entitled Delaware Discoveries: Girlhood Embroidery 1750–1850 by Gloria Seaman Allen and Cynthia Steinhoff (2019). The Vermont Sampler Initiative, that she is going to talk about today, draws heavily from that experience, as well as other geographically focused initiatives in Rhode Island and Dutchess County, New York, all of which are ongoing projects.

Dr. Anderson is also a frequent presenter at national conferences on topics related to schoolgirl needlework. Recent examples include: Dechados y Bordados: The Changing Role of Embroidery in Mexican Female Education (Winterthur Conference, 2022); ‘Respectfully Presented to:’ Samplers as Tokens of Love and Respect (Early Americanists Annual Conference, 2021); More Than Stitches: The Academic Curriculum Embedded in Schoolgirl Needlework (History of Education Society, 2019); and Schoolgirl Embroideries: Integrating Indigenous Motifs, Materials, and Text (Textile Society of America, 2018). She also provides richly-illustrated lectures, both in-person and virtual, to historical societies and sampler guilds across the country.