Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.
Readers know by now that I am fond of men’s facial hair. therefore, it should be no surprise that I am enthralled with Whisker Wars, the new reality show about facial hair competitions in the U.S. Contestants featured on the show have the ultimate goal of completing in the World Beard & Mustache Championships.
Using photographs at the Archives of American Art I have come up with some contestants for a facial hair competition of my own. For instance, surely Donald Grant Mitchell and his tremendous sideburns have potential to place highly in the Partial Beard or the Sideburns Freestyle categories. Maybe he could enter both! Perhaps Bill Mitchell (no relation to Donald), the 2011 Sideburns Freestyle winner at the World Beard and Mustache Championships, has some pointers for Donald Grant Mitchell?
Donald Grant Mitchell (1822–1908) was an American essayist, often writing under the nom de plume Ik Marvel. His most well-known book may be Reveries of a Bachelor [you can read several editions on Open Library]. Mitchell attended Yale and traveled Europe extensively in the mid-1800s, much of it on foot. A profile from The New York Times in 1893 claims he walked 600 miles in England alone! He was an agriculturalist and landscape architect, living on a 200 acre farm just outside of New Haven, CT known as Edgewood. The farm then became the subject of much of his writing.
Jennifer Snyder works with oral history interviews at the Archives American Art. When not sending interviews out for digitization, she is writing about extraordinary examples of facial hair for this blog.