Inside the Collections Care Project: Not just ceramics and glass

May 4, 2016

Along with ceramics, glass, and other household objects, Historic New England’s collection of needlework pictures, samplers, and rolled textiles are enjoying new homes in our brand new storage space made possible through the Collections Care Project.

Although the textiles were housed safely in their previous location, the number of objects had outgrown the allotted space. While moving the items to the new space in our Haverhill, Massachusetts, facility, staff took the opportunity to inventory the collection, check accession numbers, note condition, and take photographs.

So far, we have moved samplers ranging from the 1770s to the 1940s. Note how both of the samplers shown above, though made more than 100 years apart, use bright colors and floral motifs.

Historic New England’s needlework collection includes simple marking samplers with stitched alphabets, numbers, verses, and maxims along with more elaborate needlework pictures with silk threads and paint.

We have two examples by Clarissa Page Fowler (1802-1873), who created her early sampler at age ten. It includes the basic alphabet, numbers, and a verse. Just five years later, in 1816, Clarissa crafted this elaborate needlework picture as a memorial to her beloved grandfather. Both the sampler and needlework picture were original to Samuel Fowler House in Danvers, Massachusetts.

Historic New England’s new collections storage space does more than create a new home for our needleworks. It also gives us the space to continue to expand the collection.

Help support the preservation of historic textiles by making a gift to the Collections and Conservation Fund.