Landmark Needlework Exhibition to Open at Morven Museum & Garden on October 3, 2014

  • PRINCETON, New Jersey
  • /
  • August 22, 2014

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Needlework by Ann Stockton, Burlington County, New Jersey. Silk thread and paper face on linen ground, 1804. Private Collection.

"Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860" will focus on the important contribution of New Jersey in the creation of schoolgirl needlework in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With 151 works on view, the curators have taken the first survey of schoolgirl needlework completed in the state or by New Jersey girls prior to 1860. The exhibition and accompanying 187-page catalogue will create a lasting record of the best known examples. The exhibition runs through March 29, 2015.

Needlework by E.M. Freeman, Woodbridge, New Jersey, 1826. The Leslie B. Durst Collection.

Organized geographically, the exhibition will feature works from every region of the state. Although many elaborate and important examples of New Jersey needlework will be featured in the exhibition, the curators have also included more modest examples that highlight other aspects of the educational environment, social class and familial situation experienced by young girls in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In some cases, the exhibit will reunite, for the first time, needlework created by the same girl; sisters; cousins; schoolmates and other close relations.

The exhibition includes loans from across the country including needlework completed in every New Jersey county (accounting, of course, for the numerous re-organizations of New Jersey counties in the nineteenth century). In presenting examples from every part of the state, the exhibition will distill the educational environment that existed in New Jersey from Cape May to Sussex Counties. The exhibition will also compile an accurate picture of girls academies and the instructresses who taught at them. Research conducted in preparation for the exhibition has uncovered previously unrecognized connections between needleworks through the motifs and designs employed by different instructresses.

The exhibition will occupy 1,709 square feet in five galleries within the second floor of the Morven mansion. This exhibition also coincides with the 350th anniversary of New Jersey and extensive state-wide celebration and programming.

Sampler by Anne Rickey, Trenton, New Jersey, 1799. Collection of Daniel C. Scheid.

The museum will host an opening symposium on Sunday, October 5th at the Nassau Inn in Princeton. Speakers will include: Stephen and Carol Huber, Amy Finkel, Leslie Warwick, Dan and Marty Campanelli and Daniel Scheid. To register call 609-924-8144 x 113 or online at

A lunch and lecture by Linda Eaton of Winterthur is planned for January 29, 2015. Check the museum’s Web site for additional programming

Lenders to the exhibition include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Winterthur, the DAR Museum, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, the New Jersey State Museum, the Bergen County Historical Society, the Cape May County Museum, the Gloucester County Historical Society, the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum, the Hopewell Museum, the Hunterdon Historical Society, the Leslie Durst Collection, the Metlar-Bodine House, Monmouth County Historical Association, the Old Barracks Museum, the Historical Society of Princeton, the Salem County Historical Society, and over twenty private collections.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a needlework stitched by Trenton-born Anne Rickey (1783-1846) “Hail Specimen of Female Art”  was stitched onto her sampler in 1798.  Anne Rickey was the daughter of Quaker merchant, John Rickey (1751-1829) and his wife Amey Olden (1757-1849).

The full text reads:

Hail specimen of female art

The needle’s magic power to show

To canvas various hues impart

And make a mimic world to grow

A sampler then with care peruse

An emblem sage you may find there

The canvas takes what forms you choose

So education forms the mind.

The Anne Rickey Sampler is in the collection of Daniel C. Scheid.

Funders for the exhibition and catalogue include The Coby Foundation, Pheasant Hill Foundation, PNC Foundation, and Pook & Pook.

The fully illustrated exhibition catalogue is available for purchase through the museum’s Web site and in the Museum Shop. To order: or call 609-924-8144 x 103


Barbara Webb
Morven Museum & Garden
609-924-8144 x 101

Morven Museum & Garden
55 Stockton Street
Princeton, New Jersey
About Morven Museum & Garden

A National Historic Landmark, Morven is situated on five pristine acres in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey. Built by Richard Stockton (1730-1781), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this former New Jersey Governor’s Mansion showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Garden State through regular exhibitions, educational programs and special events. Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey,

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