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.”
Posted by Hilary on August 17, 2012, under Facial Hair Fridays.
Tags: army, Eisenhower Presidential Library, Elvis, Ike, Mamie, national personnel records center, OMPF, sideburns, St. Louis
Are these the most famous sideburns in music history? They might be the most famous sideburns in the National Archives.
If you are a fan of Elvis, you’ve seen the photograph: Nixon and Elvis shaking hands in the White House. This is the most-requested image in our holdings. The quirky story behind the meeting of the King of Rock and Roll and the President of the United States is featured in this online exhibit.
But it’s not the only record we have of Elvis.
In December of 1957, Elvis was drafted for the U.S. Army. This career change was an upsetting event for fans. The Eisenhower Library has a letter from three girls in Montana who despaired over a possible shaving of the singer’s sideburns: “You don’t no how we feel about him, I really don’t see why you have to send him in the Army at all, but we beg you please please don’t give him a G.I. hair cut, oh please please don’t! If you do we will just about die!”
But their letter writing was in vain. On March 24, 1958, Presley signed his acknowledgement of service obligation and entered the Army. (Alas, his sideburns did not.)
Since Elvis served in the military, his file is part of the permanant holdings of the National Personnel … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on December 30, 2011, under Facial Hair Fridays, Letters in the National Archives, Myth or History.
Tags: 1958, army, Basic Training, draft, Eisenhower Library, Elvis, Elvis Presley, letters, military file, montana, Nixon, nprc, photograph, Presley, rock and roll, sideburns, US Army, White House
Choosing this week’s winner was a difficult as balancing a hat on a burro, so we turned to Mary Ryan, who has seen many strange yet historic images from the holdings of the National Archives in her role the managing editor of Prologue magazine.
Congratulations to Kim! Check your e-mail for a code for 15% off in the National Archives eStore.
Our guest judge recognized the setting of this picture from a Prologue article about the Mexican Punitive Expedition, but apparently this beast of burden was not being punished by the Army. The original caption reads “Privates Daly, Ball, and Baldwin, Company A, 16th Infantry, testing out the burro. This burro came to camp one day and ever afterward persisted in hanging around. September 29, 1916. 1922.”
This week’s image features a trio of people, but there are no burros in this one! Just an expression of surprise . . . or shock . . . or arty thoughtfulness. Give us your best caption in the comments below!
In 1943, you wrote a letter to President Roosevelt. In 2011, the National Archives featured your letter on YouTube! How would you feel?
L. J. Weil feels pretty good, actually. “Wonderful! It’s great to be honored this way,” he said when National Archives staff reached him at his home in Lousiana.
Weil’s letter to the President Roosevelt was sent in 1943, and 67 years later it was chosen to be featured as the demonstration model for the National Archives new search engine.
What prompted Weil write to President Roosevelt? Weil was 10 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, an event he still clearly remembers. Two years later, it was 1943, and the United States was in midst of fighting World War II. Weil wanted to help.
He wrote to President Roosevelt, offering his services as a mascot. “I’m twelve years old and a little young to get into anything right now, but when I am a little older, well just you wait and see,” Weil wrote.
Weil did receive a reply but only received what he called a “brush off” from a Marine officer, who noted that there was no law about appointing official mascots. “The patriotic motive which prompted your office of service is appreciated, however, and hope that when you reach the required age of enlistment in the Marine Corps you will avail your self of the opportunity … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on January 12, 2011, under - World War II, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: 1943, Add new tag, army, L. J. Weil, MArines, mascot, Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt, ROTC, Special Forces Green Beret, Weil, World War II
We may be a litttle short-staffed on this quasi-holiday, but I couldn’t let Facial Hair Friday go by without a nod to some historic beards. Today’s honoree is Gen. Albion P. Howe, veteran of the Mexican War and the Civil War.
When a captain in the U.S. Army, Howe served under Col. Robert E. Lee at Harper’s Ferry in the action against John Brown. During the Civil War, he served in the Army of the Potomac and led his division in the Battle of Fredericksburg. After the war he was a member of the honor guard that watched over Abraham Lincoln’s body and was appointed to the military commission that tried the Lincoln conspirators.
I came upon the general serendipitously. I was actually looking for information about sewing machine inventor Elias Howe, Jr., when I chanced upon the general’s flowing mustachios. Further research into Howe brought me back to Facial Hair Friday for June 25, 2010, when Hilary presented Col. Marshall Howe’s amazing neck beard.
What is it about Howes and facial hair? One even sees a progression of hair upward, moving from Marshall’s neck to Elias’s lower chin to Albion’s extravagent mustache and full beard. Keep your eyes peeled. If you come across any more Howes with noteworthy facial hair, let us … [ Read all ]
Posted by Mary on November 26, 2010, under - Civil War, Facial Hair Fridays, Uncategorized.
Tags: albion howe, american history, army, beard, civil war, elias howe, facial hair friday, marshall howe, mustache, National Archives Official Blog