Must-Read: A Sampling of Hunterdon County Needlework


Mary Whiting (1823-1906) of Alexandria Township stitched her colorful “Hunterdon collared deer” sampler around 1838, when she was about fifteen. Credit: Collection of Pat & Bruce Hamilton. Photo by Marty Campanelli.

We recently discovered A Sampling of Hunterdon County Needlework, a beautiful book on samplers and silk embroideries by Dan and Marty Campanelli, avid collectors of American needlework, for the Hunterdon County Historical Society in New Jersey. Inside, you’ll get lost in the stories of young schoolgirls from the 1600s to 1800s and their intricate, thoughtful needlework–samplers are often the only existing memories of these women. More than half of the needlework in the book is featured for the first time, and there are some gems. Here are a few of our favorites…

This beautiful circa 1828 “Trenton landscape” sampler was stitched by Mary F. Johnston (1817-1894) of Trenton. Mary grew up in, and taught school out of, what is today the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey. Credit: Collection of the Old Barracks Museum. Photo by Marty Campanelli.

This exhuberant Berlin wool-work sampler was created in 1841 by Catharine Sutphin (1832-1876) of Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Credit: Collection of Dan & Marty Campanelli. Photo by Marty Campanelli.

Eliza A. Rue of Pennington, New Jersey was the talented instructress behind this incredible 1828 needlework made by Maria Blackwell (1813-1889) of Hopewell Township, New Jersey. Credit: Collection of Randy & Deborah (Shellenberger) Niederer. Photo by Marty Campanelli.

Don’t miss the upcoming, first ever exhibit of New Jersey schoolgirl needlework at the Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, New Jersey, “Hail Specimens of Female Arts! New Jersey Needlework, 1726-1860,” which will open in the fall of 2014 and feature a third of the Hunterdon County samplers you see in the book.

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  • Martha – how wonderful to see your view of the book on Hunterdon County needlework. Samplers are so close to the hearts of many needlework and antique textile enthusiasts. Thanks for raising the awareness on antique needlework of all kinds and bringing a glimpse of a forgotten past to the busy techy world of today. Melody

  • Thanks for posting this from sampler lovers everywhere!

  • Hi, Martha,
    Not to shamelessly plug, but we here at the Saco Museum in Saco, Maine (just south of Portland) also published a major work this year, (with the help of a grant from the Coby Foundation of New York,) ours focused on Maine samplers and sampler makers: “I My Needle Ply With Skill”. We’d love to send you a copy if you would be interested. Dan and Marty Campanelli shared the Maine samplers from their collection with us when we mounted our major winter/spring exhibit that included more than 120 important samplers. The book includes photos of all, bios of the sampler makers and their teachers, and a great deal of newly uncovered information about sampler making in Federal era Maine.
    Thank you!

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