#VastEarlyAmerica / Rhode Island / Women's history

Brown University Stitched, c 1786

A nice bit of Brown University history after graduation weekend. The first university president’s house was built in 1770 and by 1840 it had been moved and a new house built– the current house at Brown and Power is the 4th according to the Encyclopedia Brunonia. Among early images of the university, this needlework by Polly Turner, a student at Mary Balch’s school, is my favorite. Balch’s students’ samplers are renowned among collectors and scholars. Her school was at 22 George Street, just down the hill from the library where I work, in a home that was cleared by the mid-19th century to make way for the Dorrance mansion (now Wilbour Hall).

Polly Turner chose to profile the president’s house in a glorious burst of color and careful needlework. “Honour and Renown Will the Ingenous Crown,” she heads the piece. The sampler is in the collection at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, which has a short blog about it here.

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