Hamilton’s Hair

November 30, 2018 · Exhibits ·

Answer: His hair!

Small gold locket containing a few hairs from the head of Alexander Hamilton. CHS collection, gift of Miss Elizabeth D. Welling, 1936.24.0.

A small gold locket containing Alexander Hamilton’s hair is in the CHS collection. According to the engraving on the back of the locket, the hair was “given by his descendant to Mrs. Martha Lyman Foster and left by her to Miss E.L. Dixon.”

Weird, huh? But still cool!

If you are a fan of Alexander Hamilton (the man), or the hit Broadway musical, or if you’re just wondering what all the fuss is about, don’t miss the CHS’s newest exhibit!

Hamilton: His World, His Words, His Hair coincides with Hamilton: an American Musical at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford.  The exhibit opened November 15th, plenty of time to wet your whistle before the show runs from December 11 – 30.

At the CHS, the playful exhibit features artifacts from the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, including a pair of period dueling pistols, letters written by him, and yes, a lock of his hair! Come see a rare Loyalist red coat from the American Revolution, a 1776 copy of Common Sense by Thomas Paine, and a textile fragment alleged to have been from the flag made by Betsy Ross. Additional portraits, broadsides, and other objects in the exhibit relate to historical characters from the musical, including George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, and King George III.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the Hartford performance, don’t miss the display of Hamilton-related artifacts from the CHS collection that will be on display in the main lobbies.

Please join us at the opening reception for the exhibit on December 10, 5:30-7:30pm. Fake News is the theme, and Dr. Robert W. T. Martin of Hamilton College will talk about how the founding generation grappled with the free press. After all, we are not the first generation to face doubt and confusion in the news media.

On one well-known occasion, Alexander Hamilton disproved a false report accusing him of insider trading as the first Treasury Secretary (while at the same time publicly admitting to an extramarital affair). In a lesser-known episode, Hamilton pushed for a legal case against a printer for republishing a false story claiming Hamilton tried to buy out, and thereby silence, an opposition newspaper. This program is part of CT Humanities’ year-long exploration of people’s distrust of the media and citizens becoming confident consumers of information, an initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and The Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership. This program is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at rsvp@chs.org or by calling 860-236-5621 x238.

Portions of this article were originally published in the Fall 2018 edition of the CHS “Making History” magazine. 

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