Looking back in time, people’s personal hygiene, fashion choices, medical treatments, and more can seem disgusting. When confronted with gross practices, our first reaction can be to dismiss our ancestors as primitive, ignorant, or just silly. Before such judgments, however, we should try to understand the reasons behind these practices and recognize that our own … Continue reading Colonial Grossology [Video]
When Mr. Gilchrist [the hairdresser] opened my aunt’s head, …its effluvias [bad odor] affected my sense of smelling disagreeably, which stench however, did not surprise me when I observed the great variety of materials employed in raising the dirty fabric. False locks to supply the great deficiency of native hair, pomatum with profusion, greasy wool … Continue reading From Servants to Sovereigns, Lousy Hair Days (Part I)
After unearthing over 200 wig hair curlers from Washington’s Boyhood Home, we were in a position to do something that - to our knowledge - has never been done before: crossmend all those curler fragments. As a result, we can now predict the minimum number of curlers the Washington family’s harried hairdressers needed. If you … Continue reading How Many Curlers did a Harried Hairdresser Need? Let’s Do the Math!
We’re pretty interested in 18th century hairstyles, wigs, and wig-styling here at George Washington’s Ferry Farm and Historic Kenmore. As evidence, check out our most viewed blog post. It's about wig styling. Our interest stems from the hundreds of wig curlers archaeologists have excavated during digs at Ferry Farm. While those wig curlers were used to style … Continue reading Le Pouf: Sensational Hairstyle of the 18th Century
Collections managers deal with a wide array of objects. Sometimes those objects can be quite odd and even a bit gross to the modern person. One object that has always fascinated me is mourning jewelry and the hair of the deceased that jewelry contains. Not many people nowadays think of collecting loved ones hair to … Continue reading In Jewelry Remembered: Fashion as a Mourning Ritual