We are often asked which Library of Congress primary source is our favorite. We could never choose just one, but this week Stacie Moats, Education Specialist from the Library of Congress Interpretive Programs Office, highlights an especially intriguing or engaging primary source from the Library’s online collections.
The Library of Congress has the locks of many famous and not so famous people within its collections. To me, hair is so personal and individual–literally, a part of you–that you can imagine a living, breathing person attached to it rather than a distant historical figure. I find the locks of hair from the not-so-famous just as fascinating as those from notable people such as Walt Whitman.
Before ordinary people had access to photography this was one way for them to keep a memento of someone forever. It’s a symbol of love, sentimentality and often loss and mourning. Imagine a soldier–like this child named Carl–going off to war and his mother or other family member desperately wanting to keep a part of him with her at home. It just speaks to the depths of the human experience.
Today, many people still keep locks of hair, for instance, when a child has a first haircut. Parents still want a tangible way to hold on to the memory of the child who sat in the barber chair for the first time and for some the best way is with a lock of hair.
What mementos do people save today that future generations might find fascinating?