Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries when life expectancy in Europe was around 35-40 years, the problem of what to do with orphans was omnipresent. People were particularly concerned about orphaned girls, in part because of their vulnerability to abuse, and in greater part because of their perceived role in the spread of what was politely referred to as 'contagious diseases'. The church provided one shelter for orphaned girls, and other asylums and boarding schools of industry in which the girls were taught to spin and stitch to earn their keep were set up. Perhaps the most famous in the UK is the Bristol Orphanage at Ashley Down. There were also orphanages across Europe. Margriet Hogue is currently researching Amsterdam Orphanage samplers. The first example you see here is from the Burger Orphanage and displays a style typical of that institution with red alphabets and crowned crests. The darning example following is from the Diaconie Orphanage. Margriet says it would be a great help to her if anyone knowing of a sampler from an Amsterdam orphanage would please contact her. To email Margriet direct, just click here.