I was alerted to a cause today that everyone should know about. It is of the type I love – easily achievable! Finkel & Daughter have a sampler in their catalog at the moment by Elizabeth Daggett. It is the same Elizabeth Daggett whose portrait is owned by the Connecticut Historical Society. More about that in a moment.
As Amy Finkel is on the board at CHS, she has graciously offered the sampler at a heavy discount. A few enterprising sampler lovers led by Denise DeMore, convinced CHS to put a mechanism on their website to allow people to donate small amounts to a fund for the reunion of this sampler with the portrait. They are already half-way to the goal from donations from the Mayflower Sampler Guild and a promised gift from the Swan Sampler Guild. So now it is up to the rest of us to do our part for little Elizabeth. If about a hundred of us put $10 in the pot – they will be there! That is totally doable!
So click this link to the donation page, tax deductible and add a $5, $10 or more contribution. Any small amount helps. I know, as it was donations of the $5-$20 level that funded half of the recent exhibit at Winterthur. So no amount is too little or unappreciated. Forgo your cup of latte today and know that it went to a great cause.
Now to the story behind Miss Daggett’s sampler – there is such personality in between the lines of this story. Two stories, first from the CHS site:
CHS owns this charming portrait of Elisabeth Daggett and her sister Mary, painted around 1794. When she wasn’t playing dolls with her sister, Elisabeth, like any well-bred little girl of her era, was learning needlework. Amazingly, CHS has the opportunity to purchase this sampler stitched by Elisabeth in “the ninth year of her age 1795”–the same time she was posing for her portrait.
Your help is needed to make it possible to reunite Elisabeth and her sampler after more than 140 years.
We know that Elisabeth Daggett was born in 1786 in New Haven, Connecticut. She was the ninth child of Elisabeth Prescott Daggett (1752-1813) and Henry Daggett (1741-1830). Sadly, six of the other Daggett children died in infancy which makes us think how precious Elisabeth and Mary were to their parents when they commissioned their portraits to be painted.
Elisabeth Daggett grew up in New Haven. In 1812, she married Edward Hooker and they had five children. Elisabeth died in 1869 in Hartford, Connecticut.
The delightful sampler fits into the late 18th century New Haven tradition of small samplers with a depiction of a house and worked in silk on linen. It would be a wonderful addition to the Society’s collection and a rare combination of the portrait of a young Connecticut girl and her needlework.
Next, an excerpt from the M.Finkel & Daughter catalog entry for this sampler, written and researched by Amy Finkel:
We always enjoy a sampler that allows for the appreciation of late 18th century needlework, as well as a fascinating narrative regarding the life of the maker. This delightful, small sampler is signed, “Elizabeth Daggetts sampler worked in the 9th year of her age 1795,” and was made in New Haven, Connecticut, where Elizabeth was born on July 5, 1786, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Prescott) Daggett. Herny was a successful merchant in the Long Wharf section of New Haven. Elizabeth was 9th of their 10 children and an outstanding double portrait of her, along with her younger sister Mary (born 1792), was painted circa 1794. Now in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society, it was published in Small Folk: A Celebration of Childhood in America by Sandra Brant and Elissa Cullman (Dutton and the Museum of American Folk Art, NY, 1980). The portrayal of Elizabeth indicates a particularly lovely and intelligent face; amusingly, her younger sister Mary pokes her finger into the eye of their doll. Within the year, Elizabeth would have worked this sampler.
In 1812 Elizabeth married Edward Hooker and they had 5 children. Their son, John Hooker (1816-1901), became a lawyer and married Isabella Holmes Beecher (sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe) and together John and Isabella became abolitionists, reformers and activists for women’s rights. Amongst many other accomplishments, they drafted the bill that gave married women the same property rights as their husbands, and which was passed into law by the Connecticut Legislature. In the 1850s, John co-founded a residential community on the western edge of Hartford, Nook Farm, which became nationally known as a colony of non-comformists, attracting like-minded reformers, artists, writers, and spiritualists. Residents included Harriet Beecher Stowe and Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. As a widow Elizabeth Daggett Hooker lived next door to her son and daughter-in-law; she died in 1869.
Elizbeth’s sampler fits into the late 18th century New Haven tradition of small samplers with a depiction of a house (for a related piece, please refer to the sampler made by Polly Ives Dunbar also dated 1795, figure 35, Connecticut Needlework: Woman, Art and Family 1740-1840 by Susan P. Schoelwer).
Reading about her life and viewing her picture – there must have been a great deal of intellectual curiosity, energy as well as a great sense of humor in this family. She moved in the same circles of the thought leaders of her day, it must have been facinating and I hope you will be moved to help reunite Elizabeth’s childhood work with her childhood portrait. I have left my donation today.