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
Among our extensive collection of Mathew Brady photographs is this one of Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, whose sideburns appear to slide down his cheeks towards his cravat.
The Honorable J. B. Grinnell’s name may seem familiar if you have ever browsed college catalogs, or if you are an alum of Grinnell College, located in Grinnell, Iowa.
Although Grinnell was born in Vermont, he packed up his sideburns and went West in 1854 to set up a Congregational church out in the wilds of the Iowa terrriroty. The town and college that he helped set up both bear his name.
After Iowa became a state, Grinnell served as a state senator and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. In 1862, Grinnell was elected to Congress.
Grinnell crossed paths with Horace Greely, whose neard has been featured on Facial Hair Friday before. Grinnell, along with “Liberal Republicans” and Democrats, supported Greeley for President—presumably for political reasons rather than a shared love of sideburns.
But not all was peaceful in the world of politics and facial hair. On June 14, 1866, Grinnell was assaulted by fellow Representative and sideburn-lover Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau. The Kentucky man beat the unarmed Grinnell with an iron-tipped cane after an incident on the House floor … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on January 13, 2012, under Facial Hair Fridays.
Tags: 39th Congress, abraham lincoln, Congress, Grinnell, Grinnell College, Horace Greely, House, Iowa, Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, kentucky, Lovell H. Rousseau, Mathew Brady, neard, Republican National Convention, sideburns
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
Oddly enough, Facial Hair Fridays is teaching this former medieval art historian a fair amount about the Civil War. (Teachers, take note!) Many of the images in ARC are portraits of Civil War soldiers, and I’ve had to go and look up these generals to put them into a context beyond their finely groomed faces.
I wanted to feature Burnside after finding this picture of him. His mustache and sideburns create an amazing lasso of hair around his face. A quick poke around the Internet suggests that he may have been the inspiration for the phrase “sideburns” but I soon became curious about one of the disastrous battles that he was involved in: the Battle of the Crater.
At the Battle of Crater, Union soldiers decided to dig a tunnel under the Confederates at Elliott’s Salient in Virginia and blow them up.
The idea seems a little less crazy when you consider that among Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps was the 8th Regiment, the Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, many of whom were coal miners.
The actual digging of the tunnel and the explosion were successful.The 586-foot-long tunnel was started on June 25 and was completed on July 23.