Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

Historical Register

Lydia Russell’s silk embroidery is not only a beautiful example of schoolgirl art, but also a documentation of her family around 1809. Family records became popular in early-19th-century America in response to a growing reverence for home and family. Young ladies worked “the registers” either as samplers or as silk embroideries. They presented birth, marriage and death dates in a variety of formats and sometimes included alphabets, verses or architectural features, along with important family events. Some embroideries could be classified as memorials to a family or individual, while others are pictorial.

The daughter of Edward Russell and Lydia Adams of West Cambridge, Mass., Lydia Russell probably worked this tree-of-life design on silk and watercolor when she was about 18 years old. Children’s birth dates appear on the apples in orange for daughters and blue for sons. The tree is flanked by monuments topped by urns with beautiful spiraling vines running upward and tied with a Neoclassical bowknot. On the monument honoring her father, Lydia inscribed his birth, marriage and death dates. The other monument commemorates her mother’s birth and the death of 1-year-old Lydia, the sister for whom she was named. The undersized house, tiny animals and landscape beneath the towering tree add a touch of charming innocence to this young girl’s elegant masterpiece.

Volume 145, Number 2, March/April 2011, Page 7
Photography by Scott Braman

More National Treasures

Sitting Pretty

To the Rescue

Strange Brew

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike

Rock-a-Bye

Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Dress for the Ages

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads

Clockwork

Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Making Beautiful Music

Forged From Fire

For Madame's Trousseau

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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