It’s not that surprising to come across old books at Union College in Schenectady, New York. When the college’s librarian, John Meyers, was given a book to catalogue, he wasn’t expecting to find a significant piece of American history.
The old book that the librarian was cataloging was “Gaines Universal Register”. The book was published in 1793 and was once owned by Philip Schulyer. Schulyer was the son of a general who fought in the American Revolutionary War. General Schulyer was also one of the founders of Union College.
The book was not the major discovery. Located in the book, John Meyers found an envelope with “Washington’s Hair” written on it. Inside were several long strands of hair believed to come from George Washington himself.
In the age in which President Washington lived, people often gave friends and loved ones locks of each other’s hair. There are several other strands of hair that are believed to have come from George Washington. However, these particular strands have very good provenance.
The strands are long. George Washington had long hair. Many people have the false notion that George Washington wore a powdered wig. Washington actually had long hair that he curled up and then powdered.
The previous owner of the book would have been acquainted with George Washington. At least his father would have been seeing as they were both officers in the American Revolutionary War. The hairs could have been given to the general who then passed them down to the son. The hairs may have also come into the young Schulyer’s possession due to the fact that young Schuyler was also an ancestor of Alexander Hamilton.
Now that the hair has been discovered, Union College is researching the best way to preserve and present this piece of American history.