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Tag: walt whitman

Facial Hair Friday: Sounding the bearded YAWP

Walt Whitman, ca. 1860-ca. 1865, ARC 526439.
Walt Whitman, ca. 1860-ca. 1865 (111-B-2245).

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.

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Facial Hair Friday: Tribute to Mathew Brady

05-0922aWith his goatee and mustache, photographer Mathew Brady himself is an excellent addition to Facial Hair Fridays. In fact, he is the reason we have so many follicle follies to celebrate.

There are 6,066 photographs by Brady and his associates in the National Archives collections. Many of the images we’ve looked at and been inspired by come from Record Group 111, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. The negatives for these images were purchased for $2,840 by the War Department in 1874, when Brady’s fortunes had taken a turn for the worse, and he could not pay the bill to store them.

But before and during the Civil War, Brady was a successful and well-known photographer with several studios.

He also changed the way Americans viewed war. Although there are no action shots (the subjects had to be still, making it a process for the patient), the photographs of the battlefields, both before and after, and the wounded being operated on and recovering outside and in hospitals, made Americans see war as they never had before.

He and his associates in his studios photographed many famous civilians, including Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Walt Whitman, and Clara Barton. There are also photographs of groups of officers, looking dapper [ Read all ]

What should I read next?

Boy reading a magazine at the Manzanar Relocation Center (538076)
Boy reading a magazine at the Manzanar Relocation Center (538076)

Four times a year in Prologue magazine, we feature an interview with an author who has written a book that draws on the holdings of the National Archives.

So, far I have learned about the naval aspect of the Civil War and the unexpected connection that Fort Wool has with several Presidents. Our summer issue will feature this book about the Civil War–era correspondence between Walt Whitman, his soldier brother, and their family.

Now I need to read something for the fall issue. Has anyone read something good recently that features our documents?

I confess—I’d like to read something that doesn’t focus on the Civil War or the military. I’m also interested in learning about the rest of the country—please help me find something that isn’t based in the East Coast.

Of course—I’m happy to take all suggestions if it was a good book! Please leave the title—and maybe why you liked it—in the comments. [ Read all ]