Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hair Force One, Part Two

It seems that Presidential hair was a hot topic around February 15, 2008. As I explained in an earlier post, that's when the New Hampshire Historical Society unveiled what they felt was the secret of Franklin Pierce's hair. That very Presidents Day weekend, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia put on an exhibition of Presidential hair--really! The hair samples came from the Peter Browne Collection of Pile--again I say, really! Peter Browne (1762-1860) was a lawyer and amateur naturalist who was interested in sheep (in a nice way, I mean). He started out collecting wool, otherwise known as pile, and studied what types of wool would be suited to different uses. He then branched out into collecting samples of human hair, including the hair of famous people. Included in the collection are the locks of several Presidents, including none other than Franklin Pierce. Thus occurred another opportunity for the media to take potshots at the 14th President. Writing in the article "Presidential Hair on Display" at, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alfred Lubrano pointed out that the hair samples do not include the follicles, and therefore would not be a source of DNA for "cloning the brilliant redhead Thomas Jefferson or, for sheer laughs, good ol' Franklin Pierce, the very distant relative of President Bush's mother, and a Confederacy-supporting alcoholic with a thick, brown mop."

Bashing of Handsome Frank aside, it's an interesting article with an accompanying video and a slideshow that includes a photo of the page from Browne's scrapbook with Pierce's hair sample. It's much more attractively displayed than the one at the New Hampshire Historical Society web site shown in my previous post, "Hair Force One."

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