The Tennessee Sampler Survey was founded as a not-for-profit organization in 2004. Our mission is to document, preserve, and present Tennessee's needlework heritage. Our research includes documenting Tennessee samplers made prior to 1900. As of May 2009, we have located 210 samplers, 153 of which can be proven as Tennessean.
Folklorist Jennifer C. Core holds masters degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the secretary-treasurer and co-founder of the Tennessee Sampler Survey. Jennifer is the Director of Programs and Membership at the Tennessee Historical Society.
Janet S. Hasson has a BFA in Fashion Design from Washington University in St. Louis. She is the retired curator of Belle Meade Plantation, a historic house museum in Nashville, TN. She is the director and genealogist of the Tennessee Sampler Survey and is the past president of the Southeastern Region of the Costume Society of America.
Sampler making has a long history as a practical and decorative art. Samplers were originally worked as records of stitches, patterns, and motifs. Beginning in the 17th century, sampler making became required of educated young ladies. The sampler served tangible proof of a girl’s skill with the needle.
For many years, textile scholars assumed that sampler making was not practiced in the South. Our research has shown that Tennessee girls made samplers from the era of settlement through the end of the 19th century. We have been guided in our approach by the work of Bets Ramsey and Merikay Waldvogel, authors of The Quilts of Tennessee: Images of Domestic Life Prior to 1930, and Sadye Tune Wilson and Doris Finch Kennedy, authors of Of Coverlets: The Legacies, The Weavers. Both of these books are valuable references for those interested in Tennessee textiles. We are grateful to Rick Warwick, author of Williamson County: More Than A Good Place To Live and many other books, for sharing his research on Middle Tennessee samplers with us.