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Archive for May, 2010

Facial Hair Friday: Handlebar mustaches are not authorized


Gen. Orlando M. Poe (ca. 1860-1865), ARC Identifier 528778

In the U.S. Army of 2010, the regulations state that mustaches are limited to men, and the length and shape of the mustache itself is severely limited:

“Mustaches are permitted; if worn, males will keep mustaches neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy. Mustaches will not present a chopped off or bushy appearance, and no portion of the mustache will cover the upper lip line or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corners of the mouth. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and beards are not authorized. …they are not authorized to shape the growth into goatees, or ‘Fu Manchu’ or handlebar mustaches.”

Despite their ranks as generals, these two Civil War soldiers would not meet the stringent policies of today’s Army regarding mustaches. General Poe has a goatee; and while it is not a “Fu Manchu,” Blunt appears to be sporting a soul patch.

Only 150 years later, these mustaches are not only unfashionable, but they are even outlawed. What could have caused such a change in military mustache policy?

Gen. James Blunt (ca. 1860-1865), ARC Identifier 529289

Gen. James Blunt (ca. 1860-1865), ARC Identifier 529289

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160,000 pages to go

Whenever a member of the Supreme Court announces retirement, and another citizen is nominated to replace one of the most important seats in government, the National Archives gets busy. The nomination of Elena Kagan is no exception.

The Clinton Presidential Library has over 160,000 pages of Kagan’s documents to sort through and provide to the Senate for confirmation. Only 5,032 pages were released by the Clinton Library for Sonia Sotomayor.

Kagan served as the Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council under President Clinton.

Documents for review weren’t always so easy to get a hold of.

The Presidential Libraries Act of 1951 put the library system under the supervision of the National Archives, but the Presidential Records Act of 1978 “changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President and Vice President from private to public” (Prologue Winter 2008) following the contentious privacy issues surrounding Nixon’s papers.

These days, as each presidency ends, print and electronic records are immediately taken from the White House into the custody of the National Archives. According to this Prologue article, “The Clinton move was the largest one ever, involving approximately 75 million pages, approximately 75,000 artifacts, and millions of audiovisual materials.”

However, the PRA act of 1978 also meant that “records withdrawn under the statutes … [ Read all ]

Private Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth's World War I draft card (Records of the Selective Service System)

Babe Ruth's World War I draft card (Records of the Selective Service System)

George Herman “Babe” Ruth was no exception to the military draft that took place during World War I, but as fate would have it, the Great Bambino’s number was never called.

Still, “Babe” Ruth managed to serve his country. Eighty-six years ago this month, the Sultan of Swat traded out his swing for a salute and enlisted in the 104th Field Artillery Division of the New York Army National Guard before a huge crowd in Times Square. Not only did he join the ranks of the military, but he also joined a growing group of veteran celebrities including Jimi Hendrix, Joe Louis, and Jack Kerouac.

75 years ago today the Great Bambino hit his 714th (and final) home run.

Private Ruth renders General Pershing a smart salute (Library of Congress)

Private Ruth renders General Pershing a smart salute (Library of Congress)

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Elena Kagan owes Belva Lockwood

Belva Lockwood. (Photo from Library of Congress)

Belva Lockwood (Photo from Library of Congress)

If Kagan’s nomination is accepted, she will be the fourth woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Her nomination was made possible by the trail blazed—with tremendous determination—by Lockwood.

Lockwood was the daughter of farmers, a widowed mother, and a wife who financially supported her ailing husband. She attended college after the death of her first husband, and eventually ended up in Washington, DC, where she received her law degree, taking it from the hands of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Lockwood had a long career in law in the capitol, running her own practice and trying criminal cases and handling divorces, but she also ran twice as the presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party (Hillary Clinton owes Belva Lockwood too). Although Lockwood could not vote, she reasoned there was nothing to stop men from voting for her.

The full story of Lockwood’s life and career accomplishments is featured in this article in Prologue magazine.… [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday

The Civil War was a fine time for facial hair (and I would assume now is still a fine time for the facial hair of historic reenactors). On Fridays, we’ll be posting images of the finest, most dapper facial hair the National Archives has in its holdings, from the Civil War to Gilded Age Presidents.

This photograph combines the excellent stovepipe hat with two beards and a fine mustache—a very dashing portrait! The gentleman in the middle also appears to be wearing a hat, but we’re not sure what kind—can anyone identify what is?

Gen. Alfred T.A. Torbet and group, ca. 1860-ca. 1865 (ARC  529144)

Gen. Alfred T.A. Torbet and group, ca. 1860-ca. 1865 (ARC 529144; 111-B-5034)

,… [ Read all ]