Needlework samplers were a type of embroidery work which young women typically created as a demonstration or a test of skill. Many surviving examples from the early 1800s are preserved in the collections of the Berks History Center, and they typically include the alphabet, figures, verses or information about the person who completed the piece. The example shown here, one of the oldest at the History Center, was produced in 1797 by Hetty Muhlenberg (1785-1872) when she was about twelve years old.
Esther “Hetty” Muhlenberg (1785-1872) was the daughter of Revolutionary War General Peter Muhlenberg, and she was the Great-granddaughter of Conrad Weiser. After her 1810 marriage to Dr. Isaac Hiester, the son of Pennsylvania’s future Governor Joseph Hiester, she settled in Reading and became the matriarch of one of Berks County’s most influential 19th Century families.
Learn more about Berks County’s historic women by visiting the Berks History Center Museum, open Tuesday-Friday 10AM-3PM and Saturday 9AM-3PM. In honor of National Women’s History Month, Berks History Center curated mini-exhibits featuring Berks County’s unique women’s history.
Researched and Written by Curator Bradley K.Smith