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Needlework sampler

Boston, Massachusetts

c. 1791


Elizabeth Richards (1781–1878)


16 3/4 in x 14-5/8 in (sight)


Silk and hair on linen

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of H. Rodney Sharp

Accession Number



“Now We are taught to Live there’s nothing I / Esteem Worth learning but the way to Die” and “Elizabeth Richards Ended her Sampler in the / 10th Year of her Age January the 10th” are stitched into the bottom four lines of letters, numbers, and text.


Ex coll. H. Rodney Sharp


Because this engaging needlework sampler bears the name of its maker, its history can be recovered.  Elizabeth Richards of Boston married Richard Childs (1783-1840) in 1812.  When she died at age 97, she still lived in the house built by her father, Paul Dudley Richards (1750–1832).  An inventory at the time listed a "worked picture" in the parlor, probably this sampler.  Elizabeth's children predeceased her, but a grandson, Dudley Richards Child (1845–1883), survived her.  His widow, Missouri Stockwell Child (1845–1907), included this sampler in an 1897 exhibition at Copley Hall in Boston.  The sampler is described unequivocally in the accompanying Catalogue of a Loan Collection of Ancient and Historic Articles.  How it subsequently came to be owned by Rodney Sharp is unknown.

The sampler is nearly identical to another, completed the same day, wrought by Zebiah Gore (1780–1848), also of Boston.  Zebiah may have been related to Elizabeth through Zebiah's mother, but genealogical ties remain unconfirmed.  Zebiah's sampler is published in Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnston Coe, American Samplers (Boston: Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1921), 48, pl. 38.


Susan Burrows Swan, Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1700–1850 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), pl. 6.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, pp. 198-199.