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Civil War Soldiers Used Hair Dye to Make Themselves Look Better in Pictures, Archaeologists Discover

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tags: archaeology, Civil War, photography



Researchers have uncovered evidence indicating that Civil War soldiers dyed their hair to look better in photos.

Excavations at Camp Nelson in central Kentucky have revealed the remnants of a 150-year-old photography studio—which was once part of a Union camp—the first ever found at Civil War site.

Among the many items discovered by researcher Stephen McBride and his team were several broken glass bottles that once contained hair dye, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The researchers from Transylvania University in Lexington initially thought that the bottles were used to hold medicine. However, when the team started putting the pieces of glass back together they noticed some featured embossed lettering, with names such as "Bear's Oil," "Christadoro" and "Dr. Jaynes."

The Bear's Oil product was probably used like modern-day hair gel or wax to shape hair. However, the Christadoro and Dr. Jaynes products turned out to be hair dye brands.

"We found a lot of them. It's something you just don't find on other sites," McBride told the Herald-Leader. "The dye is interesting. It suggested that people were fixing up their hair before they had their photograph taken. So people may have actually been darkening their hair to look better in the photo."

He suggests the reason behind this decision was that soldiers may have wanted to correct one peculiarity of early photography.

Read entire article at Newsweek

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