For some time prior to the 20th century, the education of most middle and upper class young women in England and America focused almost exclusively on domestic skills and the arts. Skill at embroidery was considered essential. As part of the learning process, young women created samples of all the embroidery stitches and motifs they would need to know to beautify clothing and home furnishings. Samplers were evidence that a young woman had attained a certain level of skill. Thus a “sampler” became a combined reference point and exercise sheet to indicate that skill.
Today many women around the world still find great pleasure and expression in the creation of decorative needle crafts. A resurgent interest in high quality needlework reminiscent of the earlier sampler tradition has led many contemporary designers to create beautiful new pieces of art.
Following are examples of historic and contemporary needlework gathered by the Museum of Church History and Art. They embody core values of faith, family, and industry. Some include family genealogy. All are family treasures handed down from mother to daughter as a reminder of family unity and love.