American Samplers and Pictorial Needlework


Samplers and pictorial embroideries created by girls and young women are a valuable insight into the social history of women’s culture and education in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1921 The National Society of The Colonial Dames in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts published American Samplers, researched by members Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnston Coe. Listing 2,500 samplers, the book is still considered to be the most comprehensive resource for samplers and pictorial embroideries.  This site continues the documentation, locating those samplers listed in the book and adding others as they are found. If you own a sampler or pictorial embroidery stitched before 1900, please click on the survey form and join in this valuable project.



Bolton & Coe Notebooks (1921)

The following files are the pictures used by Ethel Bolton while writing the book American Samplers. As you look through, keep in mind that this book was published in 1921, and the images were taken between the years 1914 and 1918! Our thanks to the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA for the safe keeping of these treasures.

Volume I, A to G, 86 pages
Volume II, H to O, 101 pages
Volume III, P to S, 78 pages
Volume IV, T to Y, 66 pages

Additional Resources

Our favorite samplers and how to find them

List of museums, historical societies, libraries & other groups who have joined the survey

List of collections in database and where they can be found

List of photographs collected during preparation of American Samplers by Bolton & Coe 1921

List of Schools and Teachers

View All Sampler Images Here

Featured Samplers

Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background