At a time when many children received no schooling at all, Quakers believed that all children, both rich and poor, should be properly prepared for work, whether in the home or outside. Believing in the equality of the sexes, they felt it was important for all girls to have an education. Practical subjects including book-keeping and commercial mathematics were taught, with girls, in addition to literacy and numeracy, receiving a solid grounding in sewing skills. The Quaker Joseph Lancaster’s system of teaching would form the basis of Irish primary education. In Dublin, Anne Jellicoe was a pioneering campaigner for technical and third-level education for girls.
Clodagh Grubb comes from one of the older Quaker families of Tipperary. She studied history at Trinity College Dublin and her original career was as a teacher. In 1984 she set up the costume section for the newly established drama department at TCD, designing, researching, and executing costumes for a number of productions with a historical setting. Since 2011 she has curated the holdings of samplers and other textiles in the Friends Historical Library Dublin. Her book Samplers, Sewing and Simplicity in Quaker Ireland (2020) is a study of material culture in which she looks closely at the context, including the educational one, in which such work was produced.