Posts Tagged ‘george washington’s hair’

All the President’s Hair

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

The associated press is running a story about the Academy of Natural Sciences’ display of hair from the first 12 US presidents. According to the article, “It might be the strangest way to spend Presidents Day.”

The unique presidential “hair album” was assembled during the 19th century by Peter Arvell Browne, a Philadelphia based attorney and academic who spent a lifetime collecting samples of animal and human hair during the 1840’s and the 1850’s. He organized the collection in to 12 leather bound volumes.

The article notes that “Browne also wrote to presidents still living during his lifetime — 1762-1860 — and to the families of those who had died. His letters and their responses are included in the book along with the strands of hair.”

Apparently, Browne’s requests for hair from others, including from deceased loved ones, wasn’t considered odd, as family hair albums were popular in the 19th century. Here’s a clip from the article:

Because of the scrapbook’s age and delicate contents, it will be displayed under glass and opened only to the page featuring George Washington’s brown-and-gray locks. Photographs will be shown of the other presidents’ hair, from John Adams to Zachary Taylor.

Thomas Jefferson’s hair was reddish with gray when he died and James Monroe had dark curls.