Hair Wreaths in Victorian Brockport

by Danielle Maerlender

Jackie Baker, a museum internship student from the College at Brockport, can be seen here with three-year museum volunteer, Sue Savard, examining a hair wreath in front of the other hair wreaths housed in Emily Knapp Museum. Hair wreaths, more commonly known as hair work or hair jewelry, were an important part of the mourning culture during the Victorian Era. They were made from lockets a deceased loved one’s hair and were woven into intricate patterns and designs to create wreaths.

Hair jewelry was also used to commemorate family as well as friendship and became a popular hobby amongst women in the 1850’s.

Jackie is currently researching one particular hair wreath that was made by Nancy Hart Patten, one of the early settlers of Brockport. The wreath features the hair of her family as well as her close friends. Some of these friends were part of the other early Brockport settler’s families, such as the Roots and the Stickneys. Each of the pieces of hair in the wreath are identifiable by a list a names that correspond to which locket of hair was theirs. This hair wreath is indicative of some of the different connections that Brockport families had created through marriage and friendships.

Published by Emily L Knapp Museum

The Emily L. Knapp Museum is a municipal museum associated with the Village of Brockport. The museum is located on the second and third floors in the former home of one of Brockport’s most prominent families, the Seymours, while the first floor contains the Village of Brockport offices. Those who visit Brockport’s collection of local history will feel they’ve entered a time when the Erie Canal was the bustling commercial center of this Victorian village: when ladies wore high-laced shoes and skirts that scraped the slate sidewalks, and the gentlemen sported tall silk hats; when phonographs and stereopticon views as well as novels by our famed authoress, Mary Jane Holmes, entertained the masses. Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself.

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