Tag Archives: fashion

Who Wore It Better?

The legacy left by President Abraham Lincoln has inspired generations since his assassination on April 15, 1865. Today we are focusing on one in particular, his beard.


Image of Abraham Lincoln courtesy of Library of Congress, Image of Professor Alfred Holbrook, donated by Jeanne Longmuir

While visiting a group of first graders in December I shared some photographs donated to the Records Center from the National Normal University. We were discussing the changes over time of people’s needs vs. wants and how style has changed over time. These inquisitive young minds were quick to point out that Professor Alfred Holbrook (President of NNU from 1855-1897) resembled President Lincoln, and they are right.

The story behind his beard was that 11 year old Grace Bedell wrote to the Presidential candidate encouraging him to grow a beard because it would help fill out his very thin face. The history behind men’s facial hair is as long as it is fascinating and this story just adds to the interest of how one mans choice can influence a generation. The image of Holbrook dates long after President Lincolns death and it must be noted that the students at the National Normal University do not share this facial hair style with their elder counterpart. So although the trend had moved on, those who lived during Lincoln’s Presidency kept this trend alive.

For further reading check out the following links:

Library of Congress

Lincoln: A Beard Is Born