Recent Acquisition: An Album of Needlework Samples

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

Album D’Ouvrages [album of work] by E. Carlier [Belgium, 1844]
The pages of this 1844 album contain not poetry, fiction, or a personal journal, but rather very fine samples of embroidery, sewing, and lace making. Created and assembled by a young Belgian girl, E. Carlier, the album displays her skills. It also shows her abilities in penmanship and calligraphy; she executed a decorative title page for her album, which served as a dedication (to her mother).

Mademoiselle Carlier carefully sewed each piece of needlework onto the album’s pages and pasted in a short label written in a neat hand. The first item, which she called simply, “Marque,” is an alphabet sampler. The following pages include an embroidery sampler and sewing exercises, and miniature examples of a shirt, an apron, a dress, a corset, and an embroidered fichu, as well as samples of crochet, knitting, and other lace making.

Up through the middle of the nineteenth century, girls expressed significant accomplishment in needle arts through the form of sampler albums. This one is particularly finely done, but learning to sew and mastering more advanced skills of lacemaking remained an important part of many girls’ education.

This item is still in process and does not yet appear in the catalog.


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Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the main floor of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, and is open to students, faculty, visiting researchers, and members of the community Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm (closed weekends and major holidays).