Stitching it Together

Locations of Needlework Schools

Connecticut

Lyme

Mrs. John Waller

  • In operation 1680-1688
  • Taught the basics
  • Advertised: “for teaching young children and maids to read and whatever else they may be capable of learning either knitting or sewing
  • Tuition: 20 shillings per student

Glastonbury

Miss Ann Cornwall

  • Lived at 1200 Main Street in Glastonbury, Connecticut
  • Taught from 1824-1827
  • Specialized in mourning samplers with finely embroidered flowers, garlands, and trees surrounding family records
  • May have based her designs on samplers from Wethersfield and Hartford

Wethersfield

Abigail Goodrich School

  • Founded by Abigail Goodrich (1762-1829)
  • Operated a private school, 1804-1815
  • After 1815 joined with the Butlers
  • Samplers are richly decorated with garlands and flowers and often feature a townscape with houses, churches, rivers, and people

Misses Butlers’ School

  • Operated in 1815 in Wethersfield, CT in the Academy building
  • Founded by Misses Charlotte Butler (1790-1858) and Mary Porter Butler (1788-1843)
  • Taught by Abigail Goodrich
  • Also taught at the Misses Pattens’ School in Hartford
  • Likely took up teaching when their father fell into financial ruin
  • Combined elements of the Goodrich and Pattens’ Schools
  • Samplers often include a gold paper eagle similar to the one created at the Pattens’ School; a raised-work eagle stitched with metallic thread

Hartford

Misses Pattens’ School

  • In operation 1785-1825
  • Started by Miss Sarah Patten in 1785
  • Run by Mrs. Ruth Wheelock Patten (1740-1831) and her daughters Sarah (1761-1843), Ruth (1764-1850), and Mary (1769-1850)
  • Rival of the Royse School
  • Very recognizable by the highly raised and padded metallic embroidery
  • Favored themes seem to be Biblical, especially views of Charity and Moses in the Bulrushes
  • Use of crossed trees typical
  • Extensive use of chenille
  • Known for samplers and for silk Embroidered needlework
  • Needlework produced here is bright and crisp, worked with colorful silk often against white silk background
  • Often includes a raised and padded eagle worked in gold or silver holding a floral garland tied with ribbon (especially on coats of arms)

Lydia Royse School

  • Founded by Mrs. Lydia Bull Royse (1772-1832)
  • Started around 1800
  • By June 1803, school is located “a little south of the Baptist Church,” but before 1806, she moved to Burr Street. By 1811, she moved to the north part of the city.
  • Considered the ‘best’ school in Hartford
  • Rival of the Misses Pattens’ School
  • Known for silk embroidered needlework, memorial embroideries
  • She opened her school in Hartford after the death of her husband
  • Characteristics include: appliqué garments, velvet foregrounds, gold foil, star-shaped leaves on the trees and layered grounds
  • Backgrounds often have large areas of open sky and finely painted water scenes e.g. The Hermit
  • Highly successful

Litchfield

Sarah Pierce School

  • In operation 1792 – 1833
  • Known for silk embroidered needlework and its advanced curriculum
  • Started giving lessons in her dining room on North Street, but then moved to a building provided to her by the town fathers. It became known as the Female Academy and was located on the property of the Pierces on North Street. Small building of only one room not bigger than 30 x 70 ft.
  • Went herself to a school in New York
  • Started the school to help her family financially
  • By the first quarter of the 19th century, her school was attracting girls from every state, Canada, and the West Indies
  • Was not fond of needlework, but she did emphasize it as an accomplishment

Massachusetts

South Hadley

Abby Wright School

  • A school for girls opened in 1803, at the urging of the townspeople, by 1804 very successful to the extent housing for all students proved difficult
  • Named for Abby Wright (1774-1842)
  • Abby Wright attended Westfield Academy in 1800
  • Known for samplers and memorials
  • Attended the Westfield Academy
  • Joined by her widowed mother in 1804
  • In 1809, Abby got married (to a prosperous local merchant and brewer) and stopped teaching, the school was continued by her half-sister Sophia Goodrich
  • Many of the students were older and from out of town
  • Embroideries include abundant use of metallic thread, squiggly trees, wispy willows, tiny seed stitches, and sometimes velvet appliqué
  • The faces are painted, likely by the student herself
  • Greatly admired by students and townspeople, this was still a country school
  • She probably had to shop in Springfield or Northampton for the materials used in her students’ embroideries

Boston

Susanna Rowson’s Famale Academy

  • Named for Susanna Rowson’s (1762-1824)
  • First located in Boston (until 1800) then in Medford (until June, 1803) then in Newton, MA, just outside of Boston (until May, 1805) then again in Boston on Washington Street near Roxbury (until 1811) then in on Hollis Street
  • Opened in 1797
  • Most celebrated school for young women of the Federal Period in Boston
  • Noted for the quality of the silk embroideries
  • Included dark colors that do not blend with the painted ground
  • The style and quality of embroideries from this school vary greatly.
  • Most often attributed to her teaching are versions of Columbus

Deerfield

Deerfield Academy

  • Opened in 1799
  • Co-educational school and admission required that students could read and write before admission
  • Provided a very strong, all around education, which was rare at the time and place
  • Many of the instructors were taught at the Patten and Royse schools
  • Many watercolors were completed here, first outlined and then colored in with paint in a dappled stencil style.
  • EX: Williams Coat of Arms
  • Deerfield struggled during the early 1820s, but by 1826 after admission reform, enrollment was up

Vermont

Windsor

Windsor Female Academy and Junior College

  • Established in 1817
  • Largest school in the area
  • American architect Asher Benjamin designed the campus
  • Extensive curriculum offered to both women and men
  • Many memorial watercolors produced in this region though few silk embroidered memorials
  • Samplers are very conventional

Sources

Mary Sterling Bakke, A Sampler of Lifestyles, (Lyme, Connecticut).

Lynne Templeton Brickley, To Ornament Their Minds: Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy 1792-1833, (Litchfield: The Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1993).

Suzanne B. Flynt, Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments: Schoolgirl Education and Deerfield Academy 1800-1830, (Deerfield, Massachusetts: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and Deerfield Academy, 1988).

Glee Krueger, New England Samplers to 1840, (Sturbridge: Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 1978).

Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Kevin M. Sweeney, The Great River, Art & Society of the Connecticut Valley, 1635-1820, (Hartford: Wadsworth Atheneum, 1985).

J. Hammond Trumbull, ed., The Memorial History of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884 (Boston: Edward L. Osgood, 1886).