Back to:

Paynesville Area


View of
the Lake

Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Hair pictures used as keepsakes

By Jennifer Gully

Hair pictures were popular to make from the 1830s to the 1900s. People made pictures out of hair because they wanted something that would last a long time and there was little else they had available to them to use.

Hair pictures were made as a reminder of a person or a special event in one's life. For example, people could save a lock of hair from their wedding day, and they could have a keepsake, which was important because photography in those days was rare.

Hair pictures were usually framed in a shadow box and used as a decoration in one's house.

To make hair pictures, the hair was boiled in water, put in a design, and baked to set in place. In addition to hair pictures, people made jewelry, hair flowers, and palette work all out of hair.

By the 1920s, hair pictures were associated with death, so people no longer displayed them.

The Paynesville Area Historical Museum has several examples of hair pictures in its exhibits. But the museum - which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day - is now closed for the season.

On a personal note, I want to thank all the people who came to the museum this summer and also those who support the museum financially. I enjoyed being the director, and I look forward to helping at the museum in the future.

(Editor's Note: Hislop has resigned as director of the museum. Any museum inquiries can be directed to a board officer - president Paul Bugbee, treasurer Lois Nehring, or secretary Vicki Jenniges.)