Emily Harper began her education at St. Joseph’s Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland when she was only six years old. St. Joseph’s was a prominent Catholic school with a well-known needlework tradition.
Mother Elizabeth Seton, the founder and leader of St. Joseph’s Academy (and the first native born citizen of the United States to be canonized a saint of the Church), was a close friend of the Harper family. It is through surviving correspondence between Mother Seton and Robert Goodloe Harper that Emily’s favorite subject of geography is revealed. This sampler, however, was made after Emily left St. Joseph’s Academy and was most likely made under the direction of a tutor. Between 1824 and 1826 Emily was living at her home in Baltimore on Cathedral Street. Emily never married and lived until her 80th year.
This map sampler is the only known example of surviving needlework with a Carroll family provenance.
DESCRIPTION: This map sampler is stitched on fine silk gauze, with linen underneath. Silk chenille thread is used to outline the map and black silk thread is used to stitch rivers and letters. A wide floral border surrounds the map stitched with chenille threads.
The map is 17 3/4″ x 27 1/2″ and is surrounded by floral border; map depicts the United States including Oregon and the Internal Provinces of Mexico, and unexplored territories west of the Missouri Territory, the Arkansas Territory, and Lower Canada.
Names of states, etc. are cross-stitched; scale of miles (7/8″= 100 miles) is stitched below the Gulf of Mexico. The whole map is framed by a continuous vine of flowers in blues, golds, reds (all now faded) and leaves in various greens.
On upper left side immediately above seam in gauze are pencil marks outlining a leaf and flower which were never stitched over. The whole is in a modern black frame with carved outer molding and inner liner, both of which are painted gold.
In lower right corner is stitched “MAP OF THE U. STATES”.
RELATED OBJECTS: Surviving American map samplers, especially southern examples are very rare. There are two other examples in the MESDA Collection: Acc. 4977.1 from South Carolina and Acc. 5829.2 from West Virginia.
According to Betty Ring, “working maps on silk, linen, or wool was a fairly common practice at British girls’ schools during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. It served the dual purpose of teaching geography and embroidery.” Although she notes that maps were worked to some extent throughout America, Ring writes that “American map embroidery was relatively rare” and identifies only two recognizeable schools of map embroidery in America: the Maryland school and the Pleasant Valley, New York school (Ring 1993: 312).
The map descended in the family of Charles Victor Pennington von Luttichau, a German-born historian whose mother was member of the Harper-Pennington family of Baltimore and a direct descendant of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of Maryland’s Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Its maker is Emily Louisa Hinton Harper (1812-1892), the unmarried aunt and namesake of von Luttichau’s great-grandmother Emily Louisa Harper Pennington (1835-1908).