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About the Centre County Historical Society (CCHS)

The Centre County Historical Society (CCHS) was founded in 1904 and is the oldest and largest history organization in the county. A member and volunteer-based organization, its mission is to help people understand, experience, appreciate, and preserve the county’s cultural and natural heritage. CCHS owns and maintains two historic sites in the city of State College, Pennsylvania: the Centre Furnace Mansion and the Boogersburg One-room School.

The Centre Furnace Mansion and adjoining Furnace Stack stand as a testament to two of the most important economic and developmental facets of Centre County history: the 18th century origins of the iron making industry and the 19th century founding of the Pennsylvania State University. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the ironmaster’s mansion now serves the community as a historic house museum that is free and open to the public year-round. It is also home to the Centre County Historical Society, including its archival, photographic, and object collections. Both the mansion and school are host to public tours and educational programming.

“Unraveling the Threads of History”

In 2017 the Centre County Historical Society hosted a sampler exhibition titled “Unraveling the Threads of History: Needlework Samplers from Nineteenth Century Central Pennsylvania” (March 19, 2017 – September 24, 2017). On display were 20 American schoolgirl samplers and five decorative show towels, most with confirmed Pennsylvania origins. A few of the objects were from the historical society’s collection, but most were loaned by private collectors and other museums in the county.

Highlighted in the exhibition was the teacher Miss Sarah Tucker, who ran a subscription school in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania from about 1807 to 1825 where needlework was clearly an important part of the curriculum. The exhibition explored Miss Tucker’s role as a teacher and the lives of her students. Six of the exhibition’s samplers are believed to have been stitched by students of Miss Sarah Tucker.

A full color catalog, also entitled “Unraveling the Threads of History: Needlework Samplers from Nineteenth Century Central Pennsylvania,” was created as a companion piece for the exhibition. In addition to images of the samplers, the catalog includes some of the personal history of the sampler makers and their families. To help promote the exhibition, local needlework artist Ann Barton created an original “Centre County” sampler, adopting elements used by Miss Tucker. Ann produced an embroidery chart and worked with Lynda DeBrasky to create a reproducible pattern of her sampler. Both catalog and chart are available for sale at the Centre Furnace Mansion and online at their historical society’s website.

"Unraveling the Threads of History: Needlework Samplers from Nineteenth Century Central Pennsylvania" was the recipient of an Institutional Award of Merit at the PA Museums Statewide Conference. For more information about “Unraveling the Threads of History” as well as images of the exhibition please visit: https://www.centrehistory.org/exhibits/unraveling-the-threads-of-history.

Exhibition Committee

The following individuals important to the success of the exhibition: Ann Barton, Lynda DeBrasky, Diane Farr, Cathy Horner, Richard Pencek, Ann Moellenbrock, Johanna Sedgwick, and Mary Sorensen. Special thanks to Lynne Anderson, Director of the Sampler Archive Project for her advice and assistance with documentation, and to Barbara Hutson of Queenstown Sampler Designs for her advice and support.


Frederic Weber
Keith Shapiro

Documentation Team

Ann Barton
Pam Calkins
Lynda DeBrasky
Diane Farr
Claire Gray
Cathy Horner
Beverly Lipski
Ann Moellenbrock
Richard Pencek
Dolores Simpson Rose
Joanna Sedgwick
Mary Sorensen, Executive Director
Lynne Anderson, Sampler Archive Project

Click to browse the objects contributed from "Unraveling the Threads of History" by the Centre County Historical Society


Contacts and Permissions

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The Centre County Historical Society holds the copyright for its images in the Sampler Archive database. The images can be used for personal research and educational purposes without advanced permission. For use in a publication, please contact CCHS using the contact information below:

Mary Sorensen, Executive Director
Centre County Historical Society
1001 E. College Ave.
State College, PA 16801
Website: CentreHistory.org


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