A white hair found inside of an old almanac has been revealed to belong to one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
George Washington’s hair was found inside of “Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793” during a recent inventory of the library at Union College.
“This is a very significant treasure,” India Spatz, head of Special Collections and Archives at Schaffer Library, said, according to the news release. “It’s a tremendous testament to history and our connection to some of the most important historical figures.”
The almanac is believed to have belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, the son of Gen. Philip Schuyler and one of the College’s founders.
Schuyler was also a New York Senator and the father-in-law of Treasure Secretary Alexander Hamilton, according to the New York Post.
“You had to actually open the book and see it there,” Spatz said of the hair.
Washington and his wife Martha were close to Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, according to Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton.
“In an era when people frequently exchanged hair as a keepsake, it’s quite probable that Martha had given Eliza some of George’s hair, which in turn was given to their son, James, who later distributed it, strand by strand, as a precious memento to close friends and family members,” Susan Holloway Scott, an independent scholar, said in the news release.
A series of handwritten notes were found inside the almanac as well as an 1804 letter to James Alexander Hamilton.
The hair was found inside a yellowed envelope inscribed, “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & (scratched out) GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.”
“It’s not hugely valuable, maybe two to three thousand dollars for the strands you have, but it’s undoubtedly George Washington’s,” a prominent manuscripts and documents dealer in Connecticut, John Reznikoff, said.
According to The New York Times, a couple locks of Washington’s hair was bought at an auction in November 2009 for a few thousand dollars. Hair removed from Washington’s corpse brought in $5,581.25 in June 2012.
Although Washington’s hairstyle is displayed on U.S. money, he never wore a wig, according to the New York Post.
The first president had red hair when he was younger, but powdered his hair per the fashion in the 18th century.
Spatz is reportedly working to preserve the hair and is planning a public display for the hair, letter and almanac.
“As an archivist, we come across interesting material all of the time,” Spatz said. “But this is such a treasure for the campus.”
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