A thorough review of Saint Joseph’s Academy ledgers from 1810-1860 produced the following 137 entries for embroidery charges. In a number of cases the student name can be matched to an extant example of a silk pictorial embroidery—either a view of Saint Joseph’s Academy school buildings or a memorial to a loved one. The remaining student names may indicate embroideries still to be discovered.
The entries are cited exactly as written, and each entry indicates the charge to parent or guardian for materials and instruction in embroidery. Occasionally a rental charge was added for use of an embroidery frame and/or of patterns. A few students were charged a packing fee, and one was charged $6.75 to have her embroidery framed. Included, but not stated would have been the time the teacher, one of the religious sisters, spent drawing the preliminary design and adding painted architectural and landscape details.
Embroidery fees were first recorded in academy ledgers in February 1822 and correspond to the arrival of Sister Josephine Collins. The last entry was recorded in 1841, and the latest extant embroidery dates from that year. Because academy fees were payable in advance, the ledger entry date probably signifies when a student began her embroidered composition.
Please see Chapter Ten for more information on needlework from Saint Joseph’s Academy.