What looks like a faded flower arrangement inside this frame is actually a Victorian era heirloom: the wreath is made entirely from human hair! During the latter half of the 19th century, women created hair wreaths as symbols of family ties and unity and the strands were supplied by both living and dead relatives. This piece is from the Fernald family. Emma Grace Fernald completed it in 1875 and it was donated to the Museum by Emma’s grandson. While the family story behind this wreath has been lost to time, hair art remains a fascinating and valuable way to examine an understudied part of Victorian women’s experiences.
H2, corner back room, hanging on wall