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Made by Hannah Bloor (English, born c. 1829)

Made in England by an eleven-year-old named Hannah Bloor, this sampler demonstrates how women could employ domestic trainings to support political movements. Bloor attempts to render in black and brown silk thread the nearly-nude, muscular body of a Black man praying from bended knee while shackled from wrist to ankle—a reference to a popular abolitionist icon first mobilized in the late 1700s on small ceramic coins fabricated by Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795). She surrounds the figure with floral arrangements and animals that symbolize Christian notions of purity and strength as well as psalms and bible verses that work to present the enslaved as a docile, Christ-like martyr. Bloor is referencing an established (and problematic) trope often referred to as the "grateful slave," whose narrative reinforced racial hierarchies and held that Black people would—out of gratitude for being given their freedom—willingly assimilate to dominant (white) Christian culture.

While teachers typically instructed girls on what to embroider, this sampler displays a young girl’s support for (and limited understanding of) Black people. Created in the same year as the first World Anti-Slavery Convention in London—that infamously barred women from participating—Hannah’s sampler also reveals broader acceptance of and participation in the abolition movement by women and girls.

Object Details

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