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Head cloth

Head cloth

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

In 1896, Ellen Miller and Margaret Whiting, friends from art school who had recently co-authored a botanical text, Wildflowers of the Northeast, began to sketch the colonial embroideries in Deerfield's museum, Memorial Hall. Fearing that these 18th-century works would soon disintegrate, their initial aim was to reproduce each design. Soon they formed a village industry, the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework, to create fine works of embroidery inspired by these colonial pieces. One of their inspirations was a set of crewel bed hangings by Rebekah Dickinson and Polly Wright dated 1765. In particular, Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework designs often featured modified versions of Rebekah's fanciful flowers and fruit attached to lively sinuous stems. Margaret Whiting wrote about the embroiderer and her work: "Rebekah lived always in her native village, her only journeyings took her no farther than a visit 'to Sister Mather's home in the North Country,... why her thoughts strayed to ocean travel remains a mystery along with the inscription itself."1

  1. Margaret Whiting, quoted in Margery Burnham Howe, Deerfield Embroidery New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976, 64.

Rebekah Dickinson
H. 78" x W. 67"