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Needlework Picture

Peace, Ann
Place Made:
Raleigh North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
Silk and watercolor on silk
Accession Number:
This needlework picture is one of just two known surviving needleworks made at the Raleigh Academy. It was stitched by seventeen-year-old Ann “Nancy” Peace (1794-1822) in 1811. Ann was the daughter of Elizabeth “Betsy” Langley (1775-bef.1870) and prominent Raleigh merchant, Joseph Peace (1766-1842). Elizabeth Langley and Joseph Peace shared two daughters but were both unmarried and kept separate residences. Ann Peace’s sister, Julia Langley (1800-1877), had her surname officially changed from Langley to Peace in 1817.

Ann Peace and her sister both attended Raleigh Academy where their uncle, William Peace, was on the Board of Trustees for the school. In 1811, seventeen year old Ann stitched her ambitious pictorial embroidery depicting a shepherdess and her sheep. It is stitched with silk and silk chenille thread on a watercolor painted silk ground fabric. It is inscribed in ink, “Wrought by ANN PEACE A.D. 1811”.

Ann Peace married Dr. John Wynne Young (1786-1852) on July 19, 1815, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her wedding was attended and written about in the diary of Raleigh Academy Preceptress, Susan Davis Nye. She wrote, “I am now dressed for the wedding of Miss Nancy Peace…..Miss Peace had four bridesmaids. Mr. M [McPheeters] stood in the centre and the bride and her husband on the one hand and the bridesmaids on the other. She looked sweet as the rose, covered with morning dew, so pious, so good.” In 1816, Ann had a son, Joseph William Young. Six years later, in October of 1822, Nancy Peace Young died. She is buried next to her son, Joseph, whose tombstone is inscribed, “Her son, Joseph William Young, who died a few days previous, aged 6 years.”

Ann “Nancy” Peace Young also had a daughter, Ann Augusta Young (1819-1852) who was the first wife of North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden (1818-1892).

SCHOOL: The Raleigh Academy was a prestigious and popular school for boys and girls in the early 19th century. In February of 1802 The Raleigh Register reported, “an Act to establish an academy in the City of Raleigh.” A board of trustees was appointed and the Raleigh Academy was born. The school was very successful and grew rapidly. By 1809 the Raleigh Academy reported 150 students enrolled, about 60 of which were females. Most of the trustees and faculty were members and leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. In fact, when the Presbyterian minister, Rev. William L. Turner, “the Principal of the Raleigh Academy and Pastor of the City” resigned his position, it was Presbyterian Rev. William McPheeters, from Virginia, that accepted the position and took the same title.

The Academy was most successful between 1810 and 1826. Joseph Gales wrote that the school, “not only offered an opportunity of education, at a moderate expense, [for] all the male and female children of the city, but it was resorted to by Youth of both sexes from the neighboring States, to the great benefit of our merchants, mechanics, and boarding houses….” Students attended the academy from as far away as Mississippi.

A December 14, 1807, advertisement for the school in The North Carolina Journal outlined the curriculum: “In the Male Department, will be taught the Languages and Sciences generally. In the Female , English, Grammar, Geography, the use of the Globes, Maps, &c. Astronomy, to such as wish it, or other branches of Science; together with all kinds of Needle work, Painting, Drawing, Embroidery, Dresden, &c.” According to Elizabeth Murray, “All students underwent semiannual public examinations in the statehouse where exhibitions of their work were installed for public view.”.

The Academy went into decline toward the end of the 1820’s and the buildings were rented to a succession of short-lived schools. The Raleigh Academy buildings were eventually torn down at the end of the nineteenth century. Today the land it occupied is now the site of the Executive Mansion.

Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of History