During the nineteenth century, people across the United States collected, exchanged, and displayed locks of hair. Jewelry made from human hair is the most familiar form of hair collecting, in part because many of these pieces have been preserved in archives and historic homes like the Camron-Stanford House. Yet nineteenth-century Americans kept locks of hair in a wide variety of ways. Severed braids, curls, and strands were tucked in letters and sent through the mail, saved in specialized albums, and thrust into the hands of loved ones just before death. Although this practice is often associated with white, middle-class men and women, the emotional meanings carried by locks of hair were broadly shared by Americans from different regions, class backgrounds, racial groups, and religious traditions. Unlike the preservation of saints’ remains (including hair) that formed the cornerstone of Christian worship during late antiquity, hair collection in the United States was not primarily concerned with public commemoration or religious reverence. It was, instead, about ordinary, everyday relationships of affection and commitment. From a nineteenth-century American perspective, each person was fully embodied in his or her hair, even when the lock and the body were miles—or generations—apart.
Our Guest of Honor
Sarah Gold McBride is a Lecturer in American Studies at UC Berkeley. She is a co-founder of the Teaching History Conference, and serves as the Executive Director of the Western Association of Women Historians. Dr. Gold McBride’s first book, Whiskerology, which examines the meaning of hair in nineteenth-century America, is under contract with Harvard University Press.
How to Register
Reigstration for this event is free. Once you register, you will be sent information about how to access the webinar on the event date, including a Zoom link. A reminder with that same link will be sent to you 24 hours before the event.
Pay What You Can
We are accepting donations for this event. If you are able to contribute today, we ask that you use this option to register. We understand that not everyone is in the position to make a donation today, but if you are, we suggest a donation of $5-$10.
Your donation helps support the mission of Camron-Stanford House, and helps us to continue to provide programs just like this one! Donations provide funding for speaker honoraria, technology expenses, and much more that goes on behind the scenes to make these History Happy Hours possible.