DOLLEY Madison & HOLLY Shulman

A few years ago, when I first thought about creating a website, my main inspiration was my older sister, Holly C. Shulman, and her outstanding website, The Dolley Madison Project . Holly, Dolley. Be confused not.

Holly C. Shulman is probably the foremost scholar on Dolley Madison. Dolley was the wife of President James Madison and the most famous hostess of Washington DC. Far from being stuffily academic, the website is gorgeous, informative and fun. Produced as a project of the Virginia Center For Digital History - University of Virginia, The Dolley Madison Project has both academic clout and design pizzaz. The graphics are beautiful, including probably all the known likenesses of Dolley. There is a section on Dolley and pop culture and a section on how to read old handwriting.

Image courtesy of Holly Cowan Shulman, The Virginia Center For Digital History, University Of Virginia


Jewelry made from hair of a deceased beloved. From VCDH  website. University of Virginia

Now Holly Shulman has published a piece in the Virginia Center For Digital History Website/blog about Dolley, James and the custom of making jewelry from the hair of a dead beloved to use as a memento mori. According to Shulman, "The fascination with ritualized mourning clothes and accessories has generally been considered an outgrowth of Queen Victoria’s intensely private, but socially influential bereavement of her husband, Prince Albert. But Albert did not die until 1861, and Dolley wrote her cousin in the summer of 1837. We can assume that in her practice and assumptions about memorializing the dead, Dolley was not alone among her friends and family in Virginia. These letters inform us about their practices of mourning. It indicates a shift in how the dead were remembered, and it locates the tradition of creating jewelry with hair enclosed to the 1830s."

Holly also edits another website, an exhibition site about Wednesdays In Mississippi: Civil Rights as Women's Work. Maybe I'll post about it another time.