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Archive for 'Facial Hair Fridays'

Facial Hair Friday: Sir Frederick Bruce

Today’s blog post comes from Katrina Wood, a summer intern with the Public Affairs Office.

As I took a self-guided tour of Embassy Row in Washington, DC, and paused at the statue of Winston Churchill at the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, I thought of all the diplomats and representatives who have made homes in Washington.

Sir Frederick Bruce was a highly valued diplomat in Queen Victoria’s service. Somewhat surprisingly, he seems to be portrayed in a fashion slightly more casual than his lengthy political and diplomatic career would suggest.

Sir Frederick held posts from colonial secretary and consul-general to envoy extraordinary and chief superintendent of British trade in China. He was a native of Scotland, born in Broomhall, Fifeshire.

In 1865, when Sir Frederick was the British Minister in China,  he received a new assignment as Minister to the United States. He arrived in New York only one week before the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and never officially met the President.

The diplomat did not survive the President  very long. Sir Frederick died in Boston on September 19, 1867. His obituary in the New York Times praised him for performing his ministerial functions “faithfully and earnestly, but with no needless demonstration and no extra-official zeal. . . . His genial hospitality will long be remembered by those who had the opportunity of … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Herman Haupt’s Success Proportional to the Size of His Beard

Today’s blog post comes from Hannah Fenster, summer intern in the Public Affairs Office of the National Archives.

Herman Haupt wasn’t hurting for hair.

Or confidence.

The scruff that framed his face and eyes contributed to his imposing persona—which was so stubborn that he often refused the help of other people so he could accomplish a task more quickly.

The intense gaze radiating from under Haupt’s thick eyebrows analyzed many a difficult situation involving Northern railroad strategy and bridge reconstruction during the Civil War. One hundred and fifty years ago this month, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg used Haupt’s refurbished Western Maryland Railroad to supply Gen. George G. Meade’s army.

Haupt only began assessing and controlling the situation on July 1—but he was the perfect choice to lead the effort.

Not only did he have a steely, goal-driven personality, but he had lived in the Gettysburg area in his younger pre-beard years, and he had been the chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad before his appointment as colonel. His familiarity with the geography and with the railroad business ensured that his transport system exceeded expectations in moving the injured to Baltimore and transferring daily supplies to the battlefield.

Haupt and the U.S. Military Railroad Construction Corps are particularly well known for assembling  bridges with limited time … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Opening Day Mustache

Opening Day of the 2013 Baseball Season is this Sunday! What better way to celebrate than to crack open some peanuts, download our free eBook “Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives,” and grow a luxuriant mustache in honor of President Taft.

Taft is the newest addition to the Nationals Racing Presidents.The 27th President is well-known for his size and his bushy white mustache. He was the last President to sport facial hair while in office.

Did his luxuriant mustache give him an edge in the search for a new mascot? Of the five Presidents represented, facial hair adorns three of their outsized noggins.  Lincoln has a beard, Teddy Roosevelt has a mustache, and now Taft has joined the crew with a mustache of his own. The only clean-shaven mascots are Washington and Jefferson.

While the mustache may have tipped the scales in Taft’s favor, Nationals management may have also wanted to honor Taft for his role in baseball history.

Taft was the first (and remains the only) former President to become a Supreme Court justice. But before he was on the bench, he was in the game! Taft was the first President to throw out the first ball of the baseball season.

On April 14, 1910, Taft threw a pitch to Walter Johnson, Opening Day pitcher for the Washington Senators. On April … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Portrait of the Artist with a Mustache

This self portrait, with carefully groomed mustache in the center, is a glamorous photo of a hardworking, groundbreaking photographer. James Stephen “Steve” Wright was from a working-class family in Washington, DC. By the 1940s he was head of photographic operations for the Federal Works Agency.

But like many young black men at the time, he began at the very bottom of the career ladder, working at the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (FEAPW) as a messenger and chauffeur. However, unlike other young black men at time, Wright worked for FEAPW Administrator Harold Ickes, who fought battles over segregation and discrimination, and who hired like-minded people into his agency. Wright moved on to assembling newspaper clippings and eventually was recruited by the FEAPW photographic head Hyman Greenberg.

In an interview with Nicholas Natason, Wright recalled that “In those days, it was tough for a black man even to become a file clerk in the government . . . You had to mind your P’s and Q’s, because there were lower-level whites who resented the fact that you were doing photography at all and were waiting for you to stumble.”

But Wright was extremely good at his job; he was efficient, diplomatic and organized. As the New Deal picture units began to consolidate in the Federal Works Agency (FWA) photographic section, he traveled the country taking … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: William and William (A Tale of Two Neck Beards)

Why were neck beards ever socially acceptable? In my humble opinion, they are the facial equivalent of mullets or bowl cuts. Unlike bad haircuts, however, they may have had some useful characteristics. Maybe they kept cold wind from blowing in men’s collars. Maybe their wives objected to prickly beards and mustaches but the husbands still wanted facial hair?

At any rate, two of President Lincoln’s cabinet members had neck beards.

William Fessenden, whose neck hair is on the less-offensive side of neck beards, served as President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury from July 1864 to March 1865. Prior to his appointment, he served as a Whig Representative and then a Republican Senator for Maine, during which time he strongly opposed slavery. Part of the Peace Congress in 1861, he was appointed as Head of the Finance Committee. His fantastic performance on the Committee prompted his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. He stabilized the national financial situation, then resigned to return to the Senate.

Fessenden headed the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and was responsible for readmitting Southern states to the Union. He recommended procedures based on the Constitution and the Law of Nations and recommended safeguards to prevent future rebellion. He was widely considered the leader of the Senate Republicans. However, during President Johnson’s impeachment trial, he bravely contradicted his fellow Republicans and voted for … [ Read all ]