Virtual Lecture 29: How to Research an Antique Sampler with Cindy Steinhoff

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How to Research an Antique Sampler

Lecturer: Cindy Steinhoff
Live Lecture Date: Sunday, June 11, 2023 1PM Eastern
Live Lecture Registration: May 22 – June 9, 2023 1PM Eastern
Format: Live Lecture and Recording

An antique sampler reveals some of its physical characteristics and often some information about the girl who stitched it, but what else can it tell us? Cynthia Shank Steinhoff will discuss how she learns more about the samplers she collects and researches. The result is a full documentation of a sampler’s appearance and history. Many of the characteristics that she identifies for older samplers can be used to provide a full description of a needlework piece made today.

Cynthia Shank Steinhoff is the director of the library at Anne Arundel Community College, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1983. A graduate of Edinboro State College (now Edinboro University of Pennsylvania), she also holds a Master of Library Science degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Baltimore.

Cynthia is a stitcher, sampler collector, and needlework researcher. She began stitching as a young girl and still owns the first set of stamped pillowcases that she made. Her collection of samplers includes works by girls in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, among other states, and from Scotland, England, and Ireland. The oldest sampler in her collection was made in England in the 1730s. Her current areas of focus are samplers made in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, and those stitched by Quaker girls. She researches many aspects of her needlework pieces, including stitches and materials used in the samplers, the stitchers’ lives, and connections between her pieces and others in museums and private collections.

Cynthia contributed to and copy-edited Wrought with Careful Hand: Ties of Kinship on Delaware Samplers, by Dr. Lynne Anderson and Dr. Gloria Seaman Allen, the catalog that accompanied an exhibition of 60 Delaware samplers at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware, in 2014. She is the co-author with Gloria Seaman Allen of Delaware Discoveries: Girlhood Embroidery, 1750-1850, published in 2019, and is also its editor. Cynthia wrote Delaware Schoolgirl Samplers, an essay on the M. Finkel and Daughter web site. She has given presentations about samplers at numerous needlework guilds, Winterthur’s biennial needlework conference, Penn Dry Goods Market, and Sewell C. Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware.

A member of the Annapolis Historic Sampler Guild and Loudoun Sampler Guild, Cynthia also belongs to three chapters of the Embroiderers Guild of America – Constellation, Washington DC, and CyberStitchers, the EGA’s online chapter. She is first vice president of Anne Arundel Genealogical Society in Maryland.

When not researching samplers, Cynthia can be found stitching (usually a sampler), reading a mystery novel, and hanging out on the family dog.