Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exhibition Catalogs and Gallery Guides

You many wonder why only Julie seems to be writing for the blog lately - our Miss Becky has had surgery on her right arm - she tore a muscle lifting a heavy backpack - and so can't type much these days.  But the surgery went really well, and she is recuperating, so we can look forward to her contributions again soon.  Meantime, of course, you're stuck with me!

Becky and I have been very lucky - we've traveled to a number of wonderful exhibits and seminars in the U.S. (and I even managed to get to Ackworth in England for one!)  Whether you attend an exhibit or not, though, you find that you want a record of the samplers shown... ideally, a full catalog of all the items on display, or at least a "gallery guide" - a more modest publication with photographs of the major pieces and a history of the girls or schools involved.  Luckily, more and more groups are including such publications as part of their efforts, and we truly appreciate it.

We first met Jennifer Core and Janet Hasson at Deerfield - a wonderful symposium of sampler experts, headlined by Mary Jaene Edmonds!  Like us, Jennifer and Janet were in the audience and they showed us their "book" - a wonderful photo album of Tennessee samplers they'd been finding and studying.  This was not too long after Sue Studebaker showed that there was a wonderful body of samplers that had been stitched in Ohio.  Jennifer and Janet decided to find out if there was a similar body of Tennessee samplers - were they connected by a common school, or did they have some elements in common and unique to Tennessee?  About 6 years later, the resounding answer must be Yes!  And they are finally ready to unveil their findings at an exhibit, entitled Middle Tennessee Samplers - "This My Name Shall Ever Have", at the James K. Polk Presidential Hall in Columbia, TN.  The exhibit opened on December 17 and runs until April 10, 2011.  

You should go if you can.  We sure wish we could - but travel just isn't in our future for the next little while.  Which is why it's so great that they have published a gallery guide.  A picture of the guide's cover is above.  It's a great publication which has some wonderful photographs of samplers, along with descriptions and very interesting information on the "Little Dog Samplers", "House Samplers", and female education in general in the south, especially at the Columbia Female Institute.  It's the next best thing to being there, and I'm glad I got a copy.  If you can't go to the exhibit in person, you should definitely order a gallery guide.  The price is such that everyone can afford a copy.  This information comes from Jennifer and Janet:

A gallery guide has been published in conjunction with the exhibit Middle Tennessee Samplers: "This My Name Shall Ever Have" and is available through the Polk Home. To order, call (931) 388-2354 or email The total mail order cost is $5.00 is for international orders, $4.50 within the United States, or $4.76 for Tennessee residents. Price includes shipping and handling and applicable taxes (TN residents only). Wholesale inquiries should contact Janet Hasson at  

A few years ago, we did manage to travel to Baltimore for a seminar accompanying the exhibition of samplers at the Maryland Historical Society - A Maryland Sampling - Girlhood Embroidery 1738-1860.  The exhibit was guest curated by Gloria Seaman Allen who had done a remarkable amount of research into Maryland samplers, and the exhibit was coordinated with the publication of a book by the same name.  A picture of the book is above, and it is still readily available at your favorite booksellers.  We love to be able to support the care and study of samplers by purchasing something so useful to us in our own research as a book like this.  

When you purchase this book, there's a bonus - because of course, research doesn't stop because of a publication deadline.  There's always something new to discover, and appendices are updated and published online as new information comes to light.  To date, there have been 3 additions to the information in the book, and as research continues, I think we can expect many more.

Check into your local museums and historical societies.  Are there any samplers hidden away in their archives?  They may be just waiting to work with you to bring them to light.  Take the Benton County Historical Society and Museum in Philomath.  They are currently working with local sampler stitchers to present an exhibit featuring both contemporary works and historical samplers.  The exhibition will run from March 11 to April 30th.  Lynne Anderson, of the Sampler Consortium, is working with the University of Oregon to produce an accompanying publication.  We can't wait!

If you are traveling and wonder whether there is an exhibit in the area you'll be touring, take a look at your travel dates in our Google Calendar below.  We have been listing every sampler-related event we hear about.  Who knows?  There might be something going on that you didn't know about and that you can fold into your travel plans.

We are working now on another benefit for our readers - a listing of places online to see samplers - many museums and historical societies have online galleries for viewing, and as we find out about those, we'll try to keep our listing up-to-date.  Look for that item to debut in the next couple of weeks.  And if you know of any online samplers, please let us know at

We have noticed, with some excitement, that we now have 137 followers, which is so gratifying to us.  To celebrate when we hit the magic number of 150 followers, watch for a give-away that has something to do with this post.... (are you intrigued yet?)


  1. I'm intrigued!!

    I'm also curious what the contents are of the Middle Tennessee Samplers book. Are there photos of actual samplers, or bios of the stitchers?


  2. Hi, Mainely stitching! There are both in the guide - photos of samplers plus whatever is known about the stitcher of the sampler shown. While not every sampler in the exhibit is shown, it's a good representation of the exhibit.


  3. I am really sorry to hear about your arm, Becky. I hope you are back to fitness and out of pain very soon. Love, Jacqueline

  4. Best wishes for Becky, hope she'll get well soon.

    The same here when I visit a sampler exhibition. I always look for a catalogue or postcards and sometimes it's even possible to take pictures for my own use.
    Just to remind me of the time spend in that museum.

  5. I'm afraid something went wrong.
    I placed a comment but I think it got lost in the digital space.

    My best wishes for Becky for a quick recovery.
    And Julie....we don't mind being stuck with you ;-)

    While visiting a sampler exhibition I always search for a souvenir. Cards with sampler motives, a guide if available is even better.
    Back home I can keep on "visiting" when reading the book.
    When visiting Goes last year, and the sampler exhibition by the royal historical society of Kontich, I even could buy a birthdaycalender!!

  6. Thanks, Ine - at least this one came in okay. You're right about wanting a little something to remind you of your visit. We all love that!


  7. Looks like I found your original note, Ine!



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