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.
O’Rear went on to work as a photographer for National Geographic for 25 years. But you might recognize one … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on June 1, 2012, under Facial Hair Fridays.
Tags: Bliss, Charles O'Rear, documerica, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, facial hair, facial hair friday, goatee, O'Rear, photograph, puppy
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 Records Center. Elvis was no ordinary soldier—his fame meant that … [ 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
Congratulations to Jenny, who has won 15% off in our eStore! Out of 25 entries, your caption sounded right to guest judge and Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Christina Kovac and her fellow staff in the Audio/Video Preservation Lab.
If you listen carefully to this photograph, you may still hear National Archives employees J. W. Roberts, Mrs. E. B. Haas, and Miss J. Cobb as they discuss the Memovox discs (ARC 3493216, 1949).
This week’s mystery photograph moves us forward in time but also features mysterious, oversized objects. Give us your best caption in the comments below!… [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on May 19, 2011, under Photo Caption Contest.
Tags: Audio/Video Preservation Lab, Christina Kovac, J. W. Roberts, Memovox, Miss J. Cobb, Mrs. E. B. Haas, mysterious object, Photo Caption Contest, photograph