4 thoughts on “Edith-Anne as Public History? (Discuss)

  1. I can’t help but love this – it’s just so funny. Not even in a historical sense but just being like “I relate to you little Edith-Anne.”

  2. How interesting. The image is gone and the link is broken. A check of Ian’s feed shows nothing but replies. Ian must’ve deleted it from his twitter feed. Hmmmmmmm…..

    A quick image search googling of “Edith-Anne sampler” shows two almost identical samplers (emphasis on ALMOST) and a third totally different one.

    However, this is interesting: A conversation sprang up in regards to the twitter post. Someone asked for the source. Another person replied with “Ebay” and a tongue-in-cheek comment about how she hated it so much that she did it twice. A third reply argues back that “In ‘The Subversive Stitch’ author Parker cites a similar 1811 sampler created by Polly Cook.” — Well, now. Could there be an actual source for this clickbait? Who knows. The book, itself (available for preview by Google and Amazon, showing slightly different selections of pages), does corroborate this third reply’s claim. “The very nature of needlework […] made it a penance for some children: ‘Polly Cook did it and she hated every stitch she did in it’ says one sampler.” (Roszika Parker, The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine, 132)

    Where did she get this, I asked. And got no answer. There is a footnote and I managed to track it down. (Treatise on the Education of Children and Youth, by I. Watts, for the record.) (Go Tripod Go! It actually had an online link to the obscure, 18th century cited text!) It referred to the second quote in that paragraph, not the first. No searchable mention of Polly Cook was made in the text, nor anything that I could link back to the quote.

    So, Edith-Anne gets tracked back to a mysterious Polly Cook. Searching Polly Cook in Google got me this link: http://blog.plover.com/misc/samplers.html — This guy actually tracks Edith-Anne/Polly Cook to a young girl named Patty Polk, living in 1800. His sourcing (American Samplers, by Bolton and Coe, 1921) is available online for free via Google and vets it quite thoroughly.

    Edith-Anne did exist, just named Patty Polk. And with much more refined embroidery skills. (As someone who actually cross-stitches, the fake sampler could be made in 15-20 minutes, less if you’re used to the craft.)

    So, what does that mean about some of this clickbait? Is some of it actually accurate, just buried by time and mutated by word-of-mouth? Is that so much different than the hundreds of generations of oral histories that were passed down? Could “true” history be treated with disdain and tossed away as a hoax because of this misrepresentation?

    • Fascinating! (I didn’t realize the tweet had been taken down, after thousands and thousands of retweets.) I’m also interested in Edith-Anne’s popularity as clickbait vs. the less exciting (for the public?) history of women’s handiwork or girl’s education. Or maybe we should just go into business as public history eBay stars?

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