Funeral Dolls

Funeral Dolls

Normally, at a wake, an open casket allows mourners to see their dead loved one for the last time. However, in the 1800s, many people felt that it was just too much to bear seeing a dead baby. So, they created wax dolls to look like their children, even using the real hair from their head. In certain circumstances, if a child was stillborn, miscarried, or lost somewhere outside of the home, a wax effigy could be buried in the place of the actual body.

Death was so much more common during the Victorian era that children were exposed to it far more often than they are today. In the late 1800s, the University of Wisconsin published a book called A Study of Dolls, and they revealed that out of the test group of children, a large number had given their dolls a pretend funeral and even went as far as to bury the doll in the backyard. An smaller number of children would dig the doll up, just to check if the dead really do go to Heaven.

Some dolls were made using human hair and teeth. These dolls are from The Atkinson’s social history collection.

Posted on 31 October 2020 under General news, Museum

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