Monday, December 27, 2021

Rachel Adams and Fragments of Her Embroidery, c. 1789

Tucked away safely in a dresser drawer in the Stone School Museum of the Newmarket Historical Society (New Hampshire) are several fragments of what were most likely bed hangings (the donor notes for a canopy bed), made of homespun, hand-woven linen and embroidered with delicate floral motifs, predominately in shades of blue.

The four small pieces of well-worn textiles were donated to the Historical Society on February 14th, 1968 by a descendant of the maker who “vouched for” its authenticity. The label which accompanied the gift notes that the textile was “spun, woven and worked by Rachel Adams of West Medway before her marriage. About 1789.” Her father was Revolutionary War officer, Captain Moses Adams.

Although there remain genealogical issues to work out, the details regarding the actual textile align – the use of small scale motifs and limited palette certainly reflect the visual aesthetics of the last quarter of the 18th century. Further, the tradition of ‘going to housekeeping’ meant that many females of the time created useful household items related to bedding to take into their new home after marriage.

All photos by the author; courtesy, Newmarket Historical Society


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