Civic Center, 2 Park Street
Potsdam, NY 13676
(315) 265-6910

Morbid Curiosity


October 25th - November 15th 2007

An exhibition of artifacts from the museum's collection exploring local funeral customs through photography, obituaries, mourning, jewelry, medical instruments, quackery and legends of the supernatural.

A three week extravaganza of the extraordinary and eclectic from the museum. On display were Victorian hair wreaths and jewelry made from the hair of loved ones deceased, Victorian mourning outfits from the textile collection.

A casket basket used by the Foote Funeral Home in Potsdam to pick up the body of the deceased at the place of death to transport to the funeral home.

An 11 foot bat hung in the museum made by Deborah Weeks, an artist who attended SUNY Potsdam in the 1960s. It was made of steel and painted black. It is the famous bat that used to reside at her family home on the Back Hannawa Rd. for many years along with a giant spider also welded while a student at SUNY Potsdam.


For the younger crowd there was a glow in the dark exhibit with vasaline glass glowing a bright green because it contain radioactive elements and a haunted house cake made by museum staffer and baker par-excellence Mickey Champagne. Guests were greeted at the entrance to the museum by a group of live witches and goblins and giant spiders hanging from the porch.

The museum had cookies made by a local baker in the forms of caskets, spiders and ghosts. Over 200 local residents visited the exhibit. 

Additional Objects displayed in the exhibit

Jewelry set; earrings:gold case and French wires with snap closure with pictures of Emma Gurley and Charles Gurley, children of Shubael Gurley.  Pin: gold case. center of pin swivels. One side is a woven hair design, the other is a picture of Shubael Reeve Gurley. Etching on the frame is worn. From the Chapman Collection
(Museum Object ID 69-39.1-6)
Gold Pin (front) Shubael Reeve Gurley (9218)   Gold Pin (back) Shubael Reeve Gurley (9225)
Gold Earring Emma Gurley (9243)   Gold Earring Charles Gurley (9243)

Three loops of human hair, braided, with a hair covered bead in the center. Gift of Connie Town.
(Museum Object ID 54.14)
9082   9083   9088   9089   9094

Picture, hair work on small paper frame. On back, "Compliments of your friend Mary Christmas 1882."
"Preserved by Mrs. W.S. Aldrich Syracuse, NY"
(Museum Object ID 49.11)
9265   9270   9271

Earrings made of human hair. One earring missing ball in the middle
(Museum Object ID 82-69.15a)
9120   9122   9123

Necklace with cross made of human hair
(Museum Object ID 82-69.15b)
9164   9169   9172

Necklace made of human hair
(Museum Object ID 82-69.15c)
9139   9144   9148

Floral Work with Human Hair
(Museum Object ID 82-69.15d)
9260   9261

Bracelet made of human hair, pink gem in the middle
(Museum Object ID 82-69-15e)
9096   9102   9104   9110   9112

"Friendship" tiny wreaths of c 36 with names underneath. Probably made from hair from these friend or relatives. Some surnames: Bradish; Farmer; Symonds.
(Museum Object ID 91-3.113a)
9255    Ash   Bradish   Ettison   Farmer   Symonds

Earrings made of human hair. The earrings have two acorn shapes on a shield with hooks for pierced ears. Part of a set. Gift of anonymous donor.
(Museum Object ID 91-3.113b)
9204    9206A   9206B   9209

Watch chain made of woven human hair with gold ornaments, small gold tripped Hair cross, small charm: 1851
(Museum Object ID 91-3.113c)
9177   9179   9179 (Coin)   9182

Pin made of human hair. Lapel pic has three loops on each side with a gold shield in the center.
Gift from anonymous donor.
(Museum Object ID 91-3.113d)
9183   9191   9193   9193 (Shield)

Watch chain made of alternating brown and blond Macramé links of human hair with a long swirl fastener to hold watch fob at one end.
From Dr. Lamphere's collection. Gift of Ralph J. Wakefeild, SUCP
(Museum Object ID 72-94.21)
9151   9159   9150   9156

Wreath made of woven human hair in box lined with black velvet c 1870.
Found in the Ashel Train home / 42 Pierrepont Ave. Gift of Mary K. Lenney
(Museum Object ID 45.15)
9276   9279   9281   9282   9283   9284

Picture, hair wreath in shadow box made 1864 by Mary Emma Wilcox-Wakefield.
Framed, with hinge glass cover.
(Museum Object ID 52-33.5)
9304   9306   9307   9308

Wreath woven of human hair in frame. The wreath was made by Sarah Hamblin. The frame has decorated corners with a gold and marblized inner frame. Sarah Hamblin was born 16 March 1820 and married Hiram Meyers Oct.1843. They resided in Potsdam. Sarah died 19 February, 1916 at the age of 96.
She was the donors great grandmother.  Gift of Iris Barnes Phillips
(Museum Object ID 70-27.1)
9295   9296   9297   9298

Miscellaneous Photographs