J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Online Collections of Engravings and Samplers

Here are a couple of online databases of visual interest.

The Anderson House library of the Society of the Cincinnati in Washington, D.C., has created an online collection of engravings and prints from and relating to the Revolutionary War. The website explains its contents:
Works of art on paper featuring engravings of Revolutionary War battle scenes, allegorical and commemorative prints, and portraits of original members of the Society of the Cincinnati. A significant collection of satirical prints includes caricatures of major figures on all sides during the Revolutionary War and political cartoons of relevant events of the longer Revolutionary era from the Seven Years' War through the War of 1812.

Highlights include: an extremely rare wartime mezzotint of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale; a pair of rebus letters skewering the Carlisle Peace commission; and images of leaders such as George III, John Wilkes, the marquis de Lafayette, and Louis XVI.
The website format lets viewers magnify the images to study details.

Turning from warfare to the domestic sphere, the Sampler Consortium unveiled the Sampler Archive, an online searchable database of American schoolgirl samplers and related embroideries. The archive begins with material from the Winterthur Museum, the D.A.R. Museum, and the Rhode Island Historical Society. Images from a dozen other collections and recent events will follow.

The samplers are catalogued with detailed information on their physical characteristics, history of the maker and her family, and provenance. The collection can be browsed according to the contributor, type of object, maker's age, place, and date.

As an example, the sampler shown above bears the name of "Nancy Tucker aged 8 1791." Curators at the D.A.R. Museum think it may have been made in Essex County, Massachusetts. Below an alphabet it bears the motto:
This Work In Hand my Friend may hav
When I am Dead And in My Grave
Which may have been meant well but rather reminds me of the dire warnings against theft that schoolboys used to write in their schoolbooks.

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