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Durham’s Beardy Bros

We have collections and rare books from so many far-flung locations, but we occasionally come across historical materials documenting life right here in Durham.

Brush Brothers Plege BookThe city of Durham’s centennial celebrations took place from April 26th through May 2nd of 1953, and people were excited! Excited to reflect on how much Durham had progressed and also on what changes might or should take place in the next hundred years. A particularly strange way in which some chose to celebrate the occasion was to join the Brothers of the Brush. Never heard of ‘em?

Spearheaded by Dante Germino, an engaged Durham resident who worked for the Herald-Sun Co. at the time, the fund-raising effort collected $1.00 per member; and the 3093 members pledged to do their “civic duty” by growing and maintaining a “moustache, full beard, goat-tee, or side-burns” throughout the celebrations. If a member failed to keep his promise he was brought before a Kangaroo Court of his peers.

Roster of the Brothers of the Brush

Evidence from newspapers at the time show that many local businesses took up the challenge. Check out these fellows at Coman Lumber.

Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.

Want to find out if a local family member of yours was an official Brother of the Brush? We’ve got the registry in our holdings for you to peruse; and we’ve also got local newspapers from that time.

Times have changed. These days, with so many hipsters out and about in Durham, we’d have an easy time collecting funds from bearded folks throughout the city. We could use Duke Libraries’ button-maker to make buttons for participants! We’ll have to wait until 2053 for the next centennial, though.

Dominique has a lovely beard!Post contributed by Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern, who may or may not have the lustrous and full beard pictured at right.




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