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Stories behind the Stitches: Schoolgirl Samplers of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Welcome to this online exhibition about the Fitzwilliam Museum’s schoolgirl samplers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

I started researching these samplers in January 2013, and was eager to discover information about the makers, the schools they attended and the function of needlework in these institutions. But these classroom items only reveal some clues, and in order to piece the stories together I needed to visit several places and to consult numerous sources. Local record offices and libraries keep relevant archival materials, such as minute books and registers related to a particular school. Online genealogical sites helped me to trace the whereabouts of most of the girls after they had left education. Local history societies shared their knowledge of contemporary schooling in a certain area. I was also fortunate enough to visit one current school site and see other samplers that had been made there.

My project is part of the ‘Connecting with Collections’ scheme, and I am one of six interns who have been working on individual projects across University of Cambridge Museums. You can read our blogs and visit our Facebook page to find out more information about the other interns and their research discoveries:

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Leena A. Rana

Connecting with Collections Intern
Applied Arts Department
Fitzwilliam Museum
January- September 2013