The items in this online exhibition evoke the stories of American women through the ages.
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Hairwork album of Etta Smith, 1858–1924

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute


This meticulously kept hairwork album, created by Etta Smith of Gaysport, Pennsylvania, from 1858 to 1924, exemplifies the intimate and sentimental nature of Victorian hair collection and display. Arranged in braids and wreaths, each labeled with the name of the person from whom it was snipped (sometimes posthumously), each of the 90 tresses serves as a quiet testimonial to friendship and family.

Etta Smith Hairwork Album, Schlesinger Library

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Learn about collections in the Schlesinger Library that include locks of hair as keepsakes.

Heather Min