Sampler made at Colored Public School No. 3, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Object Number: 
ca. 1845-1850
Wool and silk on linen
Frame: 17 x 19 in. (43.2 x 48.3 cm)
Linen sampler worked in wool and silk; stitched with upper and lowercase alphabets and numbers, followed by "Colored P School No. [3] Williamsburg / Sarah Ricks"; strawberry and vine border.
Gallery Label: 
This sampler was made by Sarah Ricks (ca. 1835-?), a student at Colored School Public School No. 3 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, around 1845-50. Colored Public School No. 3 evolved from the town of Williamsburg's original African Free School, which was founded prior to 1841 by local black leaders including Samuel Ricks (1805-1886), Sarah's father. When the Williamsburg district school system was established in 1844, the African Free School was taken over by the trustees and placed in a district school building on North 1st Street between Third Street (now Berry Street) and Fourth Street (now Bedford Avenue). In 1845, the school had 70 students, and by 1850 enrollment had grown to 145 students, necessitating relocation of the school to a building at Union Avenue and Keap Street. A later building of Colored School No. 3 (later renamed P.S. 69), built in 1879-81 in the Romanesque Revival style, still stands at 270 Union Avenue. Little is known about Sarah Ricks. Her father appears to have been a prominent African American figure in Williamsburg, then the second largest black community in Kings County. In addition to establishing the African Free School with community leaders, he was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was organized in 1832 and erected its first building on North 2nd Street in 1844. Ricks also belonged to a group of Kings County abolitionists. His attendance at a convention of the county's abolitionists in 1841 is mentioned in the Emancipator in 1841. In the 1850 census, the Ricks (Rix) family was comprised of Samuel, a laborer, Sarah, age 16, and her four sisters. All were designated as mulatto by the census taker. In the 1860 census, Sarah (identified as black) is documented as living with her older sister, Martha, and Martha's husband James Jackson. Sarah had a five-month-old daughter, Augusta. Both she and Augusta disappear from record after that date.
Credit Line: 
Purchased from Neverbird Antiques, Surry, VA.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group