Bear’s Oil, Hair Dye, and Chemicals: Bottles from a Civil War Photograph Gallery, Camp Nelson, KY

Author(s): W. Stephen McBride

Year: 2019

Summary

This is an abstract from the "Working on the 19th-Century" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Recent excavations at the Civil War C. J. Young Photograph Gallery and Stencil Shop site, Camp Nelson, KY have uncovered a large assemblage of bottle glass.  Analysis of these bottle fragments, including minimum vessel counts and vessel reconstruction, have identified a large number and variety of bottled products including hair oil, hair dye, ink, various unidentified chemicals/medicines, and whiskey.  The presence of a large quantity of chemical and ink bottles is expected given the photography (where many chemicals were needed to prepare and develop photographs) and stencil cutting functions of this site, but the discovery of many hair product bottles was a surprise.  This suggests that clients, likely mostly men, given the military function of Camp Nelson, had an opportunity to dress their hair before sitting for a portrait.  Research on historic photographs suggests that there was an increase in hair grooming among men from the 1850s to the 1870s.    

Cite this Record

Bear’s Oil, Hair Dye, and Chemicals: Bottles from a Civil War Photograph Gallery, Camp Nelson, KY. W. Stephen McBride. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449156)

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Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 473