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Archive for 'Facial Hair Fridays'

Facial Hair Friday: Presley, Presley is our cry!

Letter from from Linda Kelly, Sherry Bane, and Mickie Mattson to President Eisenhower (ARC 594359)

Do sideburns set your heart aflutter? It’s been 35 years since Elvis Presley died, but judging from the media coverage and chatter on Twitter with #ElvisWeek, his fan base is still enthusiastic. But the some of the most passionate fan letters about the bewhiskered singer can be found in the National Archives.

In 1958, Linda Kelly, Sherry Bane, and Mickie Mattson in Montana were beside themselves (“we will just about die!”) at the idea of Elvis having to take a razor to his sideburns as part of his patriotic duty when he was drafted into the Army in March 1958. They wrote to President Eisenhower, but unfortunately their favorite singer still had to serve—and groom himself according to Army regulations. The letter is now a part of the holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Fans also bypassed the President and sent pleas directly to the First Lady, hoping she would be more sympathetic to their cause. But this letter to Mamie Eisenhower did not end up in the Eisenhower Presidential Library records. Instead, the First Lady’s office sent the letter to the Army, with the notation “Respectfully referred for appropriate handling.”

The letter went into Elvis’s Official Military Personnel File, or OMPF, where it became a part of the National … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Mustaches and Moral Turpitude

Francesco Zaccaro (National Archives, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service)

It was a long, hard journey to the United States in the early 20th century, but even a successful voyage did not guarantee that the immigrant would be able to enter or stay. Deportation was a threat. When immigrants were deported, it could be because of serious crime like murder or petty crime like theft. The files stated “excluded as a person having been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.”

But how to stop immigrants from reentering under different names or identities? When they were deported, they were photographed, and their physical characteristics were recorded in writing, from their hat size to the condition of their teeth. (Only Chinese immigrants were also consistently photographed by the authorities, and they resented this suggested link between themselves and criminals.)

Why were these two individuals, Francesco Zaccaro and Dubas Wasyl, deported?

Zaccaro (“small, thin lips, medium chesnut mustache”) arrived from Italy on the SS Hamburg on February 17, 1907, and was headed to his mother-in-law’s house in New York City. However, he was deported and back on the SS Hamburg just three days later. He was excluded due to his crime of moral turpitude: He had served eight days in prison for “applying vile names to a woman.”

Dubas Wasyl (National Archives, Records of the Immigration and

[ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Vagabond Goatee

Hitchhiker with his dog, "Tripper," on U.S. 66, May 1972. Photograph by Charles O'Rear for the EPA (549112; 412-DA-6626).

It gets harder to find worthy examples of bearded and mustachioed Americans in our holdings after the first decades of the 20th century, when facial hair went out of fashion. Fortunately for us, we can look into a decade known for groovy facial hair: the 1970s.

This is one of our most popular images, though I wonder if it’s because of the puppy and the patchwork pants rather than the scraggly goatee. The original caption identifies the man as a hitchhiker on Route 66. He certainly seems pretty relaxed despite standing barefoot on rocks that I presume are hot from the Arizona sun.

This photograph is unusual for more reasons than its retro facial hair. It was taken by Charles O’Rear, who was a photographer in the DOCUMERICA project launched by the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1971. Photographers were assigned by geographic region to document what they saw destroying America’s landscape and natural resources: mining, air pollution, garbage.

Charles O’Rear, however, had a slightly more cheerful assignment. At one point during his time as a contributing photographer, he was sent to the healthiest place in America at that time: southeastern Nebraska. His work there documents an area that had the lowest death rates for American white males.… [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: The Enumerated Mustache

Photograph of Farmer Listening to Radio Discussion, Clarkston, Utah, 08/1933 (ARC 594941)

Don’t be fooled by the sleepy demeanor of this mustachioed man. It’s 1933, and the world is changing. And the Federal Government would be recording these changes on April 1, 1940.

Over 120,000 enumerators would fan out across 48 states and 2 territories, with copies of this Federal Decennial Census Population Schedule. They would use sled dogs in Alaska. They would go to homes in railroad cars. They would talk to famers, veterans, lodgers, women, and men.

They would count this man (and his ‘stache) and anyone else at home at the time. And since he was a farmer, they would ask him 232 questions as part of the Farm Schedule.

And all this personal information on 132.2 million citizens been kept private and secure for the last 72 years.

But on Monday, April 2, at 9 a.m., we’re releasing the 1940 census!

The 3.8 million images that make up the 1940 census will be available online to search for free at

There are so many reasons that this is significant—it’s the first time we are releasing our information online through a gov website. It’s the first time there was a supplemental series of questions for 1 in 20 people. It’s the first time that the census did not include a question asking … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: When Irish mustaches are smiling

Patrick Joseph Kennedy, circa 1900. From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston KFC 2706 (PC 245)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With all the hoopla over the upcoming release of the 1940 census on April 2, we haven’t really been thinking about facial hair all that much.

But then fellow National Archives staff member Jeannie (of the OurPresidents tumblr blog) sent me this photograph, and genealogy, facial hair, and St. Patrick’s Day all came together.

The mustachioed and bespectacled man to the left is Patrick J.  Kennedy, the grandfather of President John F. Kennedy and—like many Americans—the child of Irish immigrants.

His mustache, while of Irish descent, was grown in the United States.

JFK’s great-grandfather was Patrick Kennedy. He left his work as a cooper in his hometown of Dunganstown, County Wexford, and made his way to the United States and settled in Boston.

In 1849, Patrick married another Irish immigrant, Bridget Murphy, who also came from County Wexford. But after just nine years of marriage, Patrick died and left Bridget a widow with four small children. The youngest was Patrick Joseph “P.J.” Kennedy, JFK’s grandfather.

P.J. continued the family line by marrying Mary Augusta Hickey, whose parents were also orginally from Ireland. The couple lived in East Boston and their son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born on September 6, 1888.  He was John F. Kennedy’s father.

Many Americans can trace their … [ Read all ]