Georgia’s Girlhood Embroidery: “Crowned with Glory and Immortality”

October 31, 2015 - February 28, 2016
Boone and George-Ann Knox Gallery II

This exhibition is the first comprehensive one to focus on Georgia samplers and will investigate both feminine skills and girlhood education in the state. Girls between the ages of 8 and 12 created embroidered samplers during the 18th and 19th centuries in Georgia as an exercise to gain skills in sewing, needlework and embroidery. Wealthier girls were expected to possess such skills as part of their participation in polite society. Girls from humbler backgrounds and free African Americans could use their skills to find paid employment. The samplers include rows of alphabets, quotations in prose and verse, images of architecture and embellished floral borders. Written documents from the period show that needlework took part in many different settings: public and private, elective and required, urban and rural.

The exhibition includes about two dozen samplers created in Georgia or by Georgians between the mid-18th century and about 1860, on loan from public and private collections, including those of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), the Midway Museum, the Charleston Museum, the Telfair Museums, St. Vincent’s Academy (Savannah, Georgia) and the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum and for sale through the Museum Shop.


Kathleen Staples, independent scholar, and Dale Couch, curator of decorative arts, Georgia Museum of Art


The National Endowment for the Arts, Howard and Helen Elkins, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art