Anonymous Was A Woman

October 27, 2009


anonymousI picked up this interesting little book while at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles. Published in 1979 and republished in 1995, it is the companion book to a PBS documentary of the same name. The book’s subtitle really summarizes the content nicely. This book truly is “a celebration in words and images of traditional American art and the women who made it.” Mirra Bank, the filmmaker and author, has very successfully brought together examples of 18th and 19th century folk art rendered by the common woman…samplers, quilts, needlepoint and paintings. Accompanying the lovely photographs of the folk art are excerpts from journals, diaries and letters written by women during the same time.

I really like Bank’s comments about needlework written in her introduction. She states that “in the beginning was the sampler. Girls as young as five or six stitched alphabets, numerals and simple rhyme into homely little masterworks that laid down the law for a virtuous life: literacy, piety and needle wisdom. Indeed through the years of growing skill in every kind of handiwork, the needle would be a woman’s most constant companion.”

The book, which is still in print, can be purchased from on-line retailers such as  



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