With my needle: embroidery samplers in colonial Australia
AuthorFraser, Margaret Eleanor
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
CitationsFraser, M. E. (2008). With my needle: embroidery samplers in colonial Australia. Masters Research thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne.
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© 2008 Margaret Eleanor Fraser
This thesis examines a group of more than one hundred needlework samplers stitched in the Australian colonies during the nineteenth century. It uses them as documents of social history to examine the lives of individual girls and women during that time, and to trace changing expectations of girls, especially in the later decades of the century. Although there are many individual stories that can illuminate certain aspects of Australian history such as migration, settlement, and death and mourning, these samplers are most useful as documents in the examination of girls' education and the social expectations transmitted through the education system. It addresses the contradiction between the sampler's continuing presence in girls' schooling and the increasing irrelevance of the skills embodied in it. The thesis argues that needlework samplers retained their place in girls' education well into the twentieth century because of their significance as symbols of feminine accomplishment. They were physical expressions of a definition of respectability that was based on the `feminine ideal' of the nineteenth century and allayed anxiety about girls' involvement in formal schooling.
Keywordsembroidery samplers; needlework; Australia; history
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