"Such a library as ours would not only contain books and current periodicals,
but there would be...articles of historic, scientific, and artistic interest."
~ Frank C. Patten, Head Librarian of Rosenberg Library, 1904 - 1934
The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Displayed in these pages are the Library's "Treasures of the Month."
January 2010 "Treasure of the Month"
Because of its popularity and adaptation to all forms of craftwork, working with hair became a popular pastime and even a status symbol in the Victorian era. Most pieces of jewelry required long pieces of hair, often twenty to twenty-four inches long. Watch chains and bracelets were plaited with the hair of several family members to be given as a gift, and often had the most intricate and ingenious designs. Leading women’s magazines included instruction patterns for making brooches, cuff links, and bracelets at home. Local wood turners also made special molds which were needed for spiral weavings found in earrings, brooches, and bracelet patterns. Hair engagement and wedding rings had braids woven with the couple’s hair set into the rings’ settings.
In the United States, hair jewelry became prominent at the beginning of the Civil War. Soldiers would often leave a lock of hair with their families to be kept safe in a locket or brooch which was added to mourning jewelry upon the soldier’s unfortunate death. These pieces of adornment often held a picture or memento of the deceased along with the styled lock of hair, and were worn for several months during the mourning process.
Victorian hair jewelry slowly became undesirable at the turn of the twentieth century after the death of Queen Victoria. Another factor was World War I. The increasing power of women’s rights and the popularity of the “short bob” hairstyle brought hair jewelry to a close. Hair jewelry still fascinates viewers, and though mostly found in museums and antique stores, the tradition of saving hair can still be found in today’s cultural practices. Baby albums across the world still hold locks of hair from “baby’s first haircut.”
The Treasure of the Month is located on the library’s historic second floor near the East Entrance. It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the Museum Office at 409-763-8854 x 125.