Hairwork Wreath

Probably made by Anna Josepha Young Hamilton

Third quarter of the 19th century

In the 19th century, fashioning ornaments from human hair became a popular pastime, particularly for women. The finished piece could serve either a sentimental or memorial function, depending upon whether the hair came from a living or deceased friend or family member. Hairwork took many forms, including jewelry and large wreaths such as this, made by wrapping hair around wire. Hamilton had seven children; therefore, this large piece may represent her entire family, containing the hair of each of its members.