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Stories behind the Stitches: Schoolgirl Samplers of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

This online exhibition examines eight English samplers in the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection, made by schoolgirls from poor or modest backgrounds in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Each inscription includes not only the maker’s name, age, year and a moral text, but also the school in which the girls received their education. The eight examples in this exhibition provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, and can illuminate the life experiences of these young stitchers. In some cases, scant information exists on the girls, and these school-room objects are the only proof of their existence. Nevertheless, their works serve as a testament to their patience and skill, and are invaluable historical documents that can tell us personal stories about the girls who made these classroom items.

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