The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

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    Raised embroidery whitework (also known as candle wicking) coverlet with a tufted basket and grape design. The family narrative states the coverlet was homespun from cotton grown on the farm of James Nicholls and Margaret Randolph Nicholls in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Whitework textiles were most prevalent in Kentucky between 1800 and the 1830s, and typically made by teenage girls. Elizabeth Randolph Nicholls Godman was aged fifteen when she made this coverlet. Likely the fiber for this coverlet was cultivated on the family farm. Elizabeth may have spun the fiber or taken it to a spinner (free or enslaved person), and then turned it over to a professional weaver in her community. Elizabeth would have then hand stitched the elaborate embroidered design.

    Linen coverlet belonging to Elizabeth Tyler Sturgeon. Elizabeth married Thomas Sturgeon in 1816, who died only seven years into their marriage. Elizabeth then took on the responsibility of managing their farm while also raising her three young sons. Elizabeth enslaved seven people who provided crucial labor that contributed to the success of the farm and household. After her husband died, an unidentified enslaved woman helped Elizabeth manage the farm. In 1833, Eliza died from cholera, leaving her three sons, all under the age of eighteen, to live with her brother.
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