The Tennessee Sampler Survey

screenshot of website

The Tennessee Sampler Survey website states that their aim it to document and preserve Tennessee’s needlework heritage.

To quote the site

“The Tennessee Sampler Survey was founded as a not-for-profit organization in 2004. Our mission is to document and preserve Tennessee’s needlework heritage. Our research includes documenting Tennessee samplers made prior to 1900. As of May 2009, we have located 210 samplers, 153 of which can be proven as Tennessean”

Why so proud of documenting 153 proven Tennessean samplers?

According to the about page until recently textile scholars has assumed that sampler making was not practiced in the South hence the enthusiasm at locating 210 samplers

It is a very well designed site which sampler enthusiasts will enjoy. You can move your mouse over the images to view the samplers in greater detail.

There is also a blog associated with the project. It is simply called the Tennessee Sampler project it is an extremely interesting read.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Romilly
    Yes I agree as I have always thought it a strange claim too as I don’t know of any textile practice that does not involve a small practice piece at some stage of the learning process. I had assumed that in this particular discussion it meant a designed sampler that was more a piece of decoration than a cloth to learn stitches on. Different parts of the world interpret the word sampler slightly differently so I had assumed this is what they meant.

    Sharon B
  2. "According to the about page until recently textile scholars has assumed that sampler making was not practiced in the South hence the enthusiasm at locating 210 samplers"

    We had a lovely curator from the NC museum of history speak about samplers at one of our EGA meetings several years ago. She was strongly of the opinion that the idea that Southerners didn’t make samplers was pure bunk. She suggested several possible reasons for so few surviving Southern samplers.

    1. A lot of them might have been used, along with so much of the textile history in the south, as bandages during the Civil War.
    2. The South is known for Heat. Humidity. Bugs. Not conducive to samplers surviving.
    3. Families in the South tend to KEEP things. The samplers that the museum has obtained have been stashed in the attics of local families that are still living in the same house – sometimes for many many decades before Great-great-great-great-great niece Abby decides to go through the boxes. And when they DO find them, most people don’t know just how important the textiles are to our history, and how rare.

    I am so glad to find that there is an organization like this in TN. It does, however, remind me that I meant to go talk to that curator and never got around to it… Hmmm.

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