In the early to mid 19th century it was popular in certain regions of the country to document a family's genealogy. The tools and materials varied - calligraphy on paper, carvings in wood, or embroidered stitches on fabric or paper. The documents, regardless of the medium used, were often labeled with words like "Genealogy", "Family Record", "Family Tree", or "Family Register".

Family Record samplers were especially popular in New England, where regional variations have resulted in a variety of designs and layouts. One of the most common was to stitch birth, marriage, and death dates in columns, starting with the sampler maker's parents and then listing the children in the order of their birth. The intention was to add dates over time (as individuals married and died), but these Family Record samplers frequently remain incomplete. Particularly poignant on these samplers is seeing the names and dates of children who died young, often within their first two years.

18th century cross stitch sampler by Naomi Bliss

Naomi Bliss Sampler

Circa 1817
Materials: Silk on linen
Dimensions: 8.75" H x 13.5" W
Stitches: cross
Courtesy of Be Davison Herrera

Naomi Bliss was born July 26, 1792 in Longmeadow, Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Verse: "Family Register / Jesse Meacham was born / Naomi Bliss was born July 26, 1792 / Married Jan 23 1"

J. E. Herrera, whose mother of Pennsylvania German (Dutch) ancestry made alphabet samplers as a young girl, purchased this sampler in Pennsylvania as a Valentine gift in 1982 for the Herrera Family Fiber Collection.

19th c. American Family Record stitched sampler

Roxana Hardin, 1829

Materials: Silk on unbleached linen
Dimensions: 17.75" H x 16.5" W
Stitches: cross, queen
Collection of Lynne Anderson

Roxana H. Hardin was born in August 1821, the fourth and last child of Thomas and Mehitable Harden of Abington, MA. Roxana did not label her sampler a Family Record but she included full names and birth dates for all members of her immediate family, except herself:

Thomas Harden born June 26, 1787
Mehitable Harden born July 5, 1787
Married June 29, 1811
Sarah H Harden born July 16, 1812
Nancy W Harden born Feb 3, 1815
Harriet Harden born Dec 4, 1818

Family Record Sampler stitched on paper

Brooks Family Record

Circa 1857
Materials: Wool, silk, and cotton on perforated paper
Dimensions: 14" H x 18" W
Stitches: Cross, tent
Private collection

The family of Jonah and Sophronia (Bradford) Brooks lived in Lunenberg, Essex County, Vermont. As listed on their Family Record, Jonah and Sophronia were the parents of eight children, born between the years 1828 and 1846. The Brooks Family Record was stitched in stages over a period of approximately 66 years, making it one of the few Family Record samplers of this format with complete information for all individuals listed.