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Sampled Lives

Museums and galleries in Cambridge will be closed to the public as part of a period of national/local restrictions.

Showcasing over 100 samplers from the Museum’s excellent but often unseen collection, this display highlights the importance of samplers as documentary evidence of past lives.

These beautifully embroidered and stitched samplers illuminate the lives of girls and women, from mid-seventeenth-century English Quakers to early twentieth-century school pupils, encompassing their education, employment, religion, family, societal status and needlework skills. The display also highlights the individuality of each sampler, which in some cases is the only surviving document to record the existence of an ordinary young woman.

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