I was going to try to find another bearded man to feature, but it’s practically Christmas Eve, and let’s face it, Santa Claus has the most famous beard (and reindeer) of all.
It’s like a giant cloud of fluffy white snow around his chin. It’s his defining characteristic. In the middle of July when there’s an older gentleman on the beach sweating under a large white beard, we just know that’s really Santa on vacation.
We have lots of pictures of the jolly old elf in our holdings. Santa Claus was a popular figure for World War II advertisments to encourage citizens to buy war bonds. No word on whether his snowy-white beard was the deciding factor in buying them, but I bet it made buying them more like a Christmas gift and less like a patriotic duty.
But my favorite image of Santa Claus from our holdings is the one above.
The original captions reads: “Personnel of USS LEXINGTON celebrate Christmas with make-shift decorations and a firefighting, helmeted Santa Claus, 12/1944.”
These young men were away from home over the holidays in 1944, but they still managed to bring the spirit of St. Nick to their ship during wartime. Someone took the time to make paper chains and paper tree, and hang a hand-drawn sign. And what else embodies the Christmas spirit like making your fellow serviceman wear a giant beard made of cottonballs?
It must … [ Read all ]
If you visited the National Archives in Washington, DC, last year and waited in line on the Constitution Avenue side of the building on your way to see our Charters of Freedom, you may have seen a red cart with a big red umbrella and a sign that says “Ask the Question.”
And now, you may also see this man.
That’s right—fans of Facial Hair Friday can now see a fine example of facial hair standing right outside the National Archives. Christian Tenney works for the Foundation for the National Archives, helping tourists purchase gifts, souvenirs, and books as well as helping them find the entrance or the nearest bus stop.
I took this opportunity to “Ask the Question” (several questions, actually) about his prodigious beard, and I am happy to present answers to the questions you wish you could ask someone with an flowing beard:
First, he is not a Civil War reenactor (this is a common question, apparently).
Second, yes, the ladies do like the beard.
Third, he has not seen his chin since 2004, when he decided to start growing the beard and he no longer remembers what his face looks like.
Fourth, he does shampoo and trim the beard to keep it up to sartorial standards.
Fifth, yes, eating with a beard can be a challenge: “Maple syrup is my … [ Read all ]
Song of My Beard
(with apologies to the original Whitman poem!)
I celebrate my beard, and sing my beard,
And what I grow you shall grow
For every follicle belonging to me as good as belongs to you.
I loafe and stroke my beard
I lean and stroke my beard at my ease observing the other bushy mustaches.
My hair, every follicle of my face, form’d this beard, this ’stache
Grown here of my hair grown from hairs the
same, and their hairs the same,
I , now ageless forever in photographs begin,
Hoping to inspire more beard growing.
Walt Whitman spent many months with wounded soldiers in the hospitals of Washington, DC, while one of his brothers fought in numerous battles. Walt and his family were prolific letter writers. You can read more about his correspondence and experiences in the Civil War in this new Author on the Record interview with Robert Roper in the Summer 2010 issue of Prologue.
Whitman also worked as a clerk in the attorney general’s office during the Civil War. Recently, a researcher discovered over 3,000 documents in Whitman’s handwriting from his time as a civil servant in the holdings of the National Archives. You can read more about this fascinating discovery “Whitman, Walt, Clerk” in the Winter issue of Prologue magazine.
Today’s Facial Hair Friday is not a case of mistaken identity. Jefferson Davis was arrested for murder.
But this Jefferson Davis was not the president of the Confederate States. This one was a Union officer, with nearly the same name. Jefferson Columbus Davis was a brigadier general in the Union Army when he shot and killed a superior officer, Maj. Gen. William Nelson, after an altercation at a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
Although Davis was arrested, he was never convicted, but instead was sent back into the Army. Charges were never pressed against him. After the war, he continued with the Army as the first commander of the “Department of Alaska.”
But there is a question of identity for Jefferson C. Davis.
Gen. Davis appears again in a group photo, identified at the far left. His arm appears to have been amputated, but I can’t find any mention of the event where he was wounded. Is he the man on the far left, or is he the man standing, second from the right? The beards make it somewhat hard to tell. Or do any of our readers know what happened to Davis’s arm?… [ Read all ]