22. In Female Worth and Elegance: Sampler and Needlework Students and Teachers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1741-1840

Second Edition

by John F. LaBranche and Rita F. Conant

In Female Worth and Elegance, Portsmouth Marine Society

Instruction in needlework played an important role in the education of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, females well into the nineteenth century. Judged on technical merit, the work of these young students (the average age of the girls is eleven) exhibits a range of capabilities. In schools both formal and otherwise, the girls were taught to make colorful samplers, working alphabets and decorative elements and designs, and producing articles which are highly collectible today.

For ten years, the authors researched both the teachers and the needlework students of Portsmouth. When they began their research only about a half dozen Portsmouth samplers were known, but ultimately the trail led to more than a hundred students and over a hundred teachers in the period 1741 to 1840.

In 2009 Jean Sawtelle generously added full color images of her collection of Portsmouth samplers to this second edition and lent her samplers to the exhibit at the John Paul Jones House in Portsmouth. Several new color images were added or updated in this edition, but the text and index remain the same as the first edition (out of print). We hope this second edition will help make this information more available to museums and individuals who own or collect these samplers and to all those who requested the book when there were no more to be found.

Using rare documents and illustrations, the authors describe a unique aspect of American life, the story of teachers and students pursuing a craft rarely performed today, but one which was part of the basic education for young women more than 100 years ago. Twenty-seven samplers are reproduced in full color.

7×10 softcover, 188 pages 50 illustrations, 27 full color, ISBN 978-0-915819-39-3 $20

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