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.