Our first gathering of 2013 was a visit on January 31 to the Massachusetts Historical Society to see their latest exhibit on jewelry.
In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry features rings, bracelets, brooches, and other pieces of mourning jewelry from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, ranging from early gold bands with death’s head iconography to jeweled brooches and intricately woven hairwork pieces of the Civil War era. These elegant and evocative objects are presented in the context of their history, use, and meaning, alongside related pieces of material culture.
Our group heard from the show’s curators to learn how they put the show together, the collaborations involved, and the changing role of exhibitions at the Massachusetts Historical Society research library. The meeting was hosted by staff member Betsy Boyle and provided us with a chance to become acquainted with a rich archive of the papers of early New England families and rare books. This is the nation’s oldest Historical Society that has been collecting and publishing since 1791!