The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

Was Laura Goodale an Early American Historian?

Interpreting Data

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.


Needlework was an important part of a young woman's education in early America. Many women used their sewing needles to express themselves both artistically and intellectually. They also used samplers (decorative pieces of needlework) to record information. Today, samplers serve as important historical documents that can teach us about the past from a woman's perspective.

Take a few minutes to study the sampler below. Click on the "i" buttons and answer the questions.

After you've answered the questions on the sampler, click on "Consider the Source" and answer the questions that follow. After that, click on "When You're Done."



Was Laura Goodale an Early American Historian?

Interpreting Data

Examine the document or documents below. Use the numbers to refer to the questions or hints provided. Then label the documents(s) with additional numbers or symbols based if you were asked to do in the introduction and explain them in the margins. Write your conclusion response in the space provided.


Number: 1
Chester Goodale’s full birth date was omitted. Is it possible that it was not known by the creator?

Number: 2
A name was stitched outside the border at the bottom of the sampler. Why do you think this name was included here?

Number: 3
In several places the letter "s" is backwards. Do you think the creator was learning to write?

Number: 4
There are spelling inconsistencies within the document. Do you think the creator was learning to read?

Number: 5
What information can you gather from studying this piece of needlework?


Activity Element

Sampler of Chester Goodale

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Consider the Source

How do you think this data was collected?
Tally or Count
Reporting or recording
Compilation from other sources

Who do you think created the document(s)?

Why do you think the document(s) were created?

What questions does this raise in your mind?


Was Laura Goodale an Early American Historian?

Interpreting Data

Sixteen-year-old Laura Goodale stitched this sampler in 1809. On May 25, 1840, Laura [Goodale] Hadley appeared before a Justice of the Peace and testified that the sampler she had created 30 years earlier was accurate to the best of her knowledge. The sampler was submitted as a legal document to prove that her mother, Asenath, was married to her father, Chester. Asenath applied for a widow's pension to receive money for Chester's Revolutionary War service. Asenath received a pension of $50 a month.

  1. Would you consider Laura Goodale to be an historian? Why or why not?
  2. Does this new information change your understanding of Laura's sampler?

Your Response


Sampler of Chester Goodale

ca. 1809

Laura Goodale, daughter of Chester and Asenath Goodale, made this family record with its strawberry and vine border around 1809. Her mother submitted this sampler with her widow’s pension application, as proof of her marriage to Chester Goodale, a Revolutionary War veteran. Chester served for 15 months as a private in four different regiments from Connecticut and Massachusetts. For his service Asenath was awarded a pension of $50 a year. Note the needle in the lower right corner.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
National Archives Identifier: 1656127
Full Citation: Sampler of Chester Goodale; ca. 1809; Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File of Chester Goodale of Connecticut; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, ca. 1800 - ca. 1912; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version,, July 5, 2020]

Sampler of Chester Goodale

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