Civil War Soldiers Used Hair Dye to Improve Appearance In Pictures, Archaeologists Discover

Civil War Soldiers Used Hair Dye to Improve Appearance In Pictures, Archaeologists Discover

Recent excavations at Camp Nelson in Kentucky have uncovered evidence which suggests soldiers in the American Civil War used hair dye to improve their appearance in photos.

The finds were discovered amongst the remains of a 150 year old photography studio, which had once been part of a Union camp during the Civil War.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Transylvania University in Lexington who were working at the camp, which was once a hub for Union troops.

While the researchers had originally believed the small glass bottles to have contained medicine, they noticed embossed lettering on the bottles when they were reconstructed.

After researching the names ‘Christadoro’ and ‘Dr. Jaynes’, the archaeologists discovered that these were hair dye brands.

Researcher Stephen McBride said that the dye ‘suggested that people were fixing up their hair before they had their photograph taken’.

This could be because early photography methods meant that if you had light hair, the monochrome photograph would make your hair appear white or grey.

The Civil War was the first war in the US to be photographed and it was common for new enlistees to have their photo taken before leaving to fight in the war.

Many of the enlistees wished to be photographed to display their status as soldiers, and also for posterity in case they were injured or killed.

We offer a chance to view the American Civil War from a variety of perspectives and locations. Learn more about the different tours which we offer here.

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Added: 12th December 2019

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