You don't expect a hair-raising discovery to come from a book of population estimates for the American colonies, especially one with the boring title of "Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the Year 1793." Yet buried in the volume kept on a library shelf at Union College in upstate New York was just such a find: a lock of George Washington's hair. Archivist Daniel Michelson stumbled upon the six strands of "gray-white" hair, tied with thread, inside an envelope tucked into the leather-bound book during a recent inventory review, reports USA Today. How did it get there? As Fox News reports, the book at one point belonged to the son of Gen. Philip Schuyler. In addition to being one of the college's founders and a close friend of Washington who served under him during the Revolutionary War, Schuyler was also Alexander Hamilton's father-in law, per a release.
Since locks of hair were then given as keepsakes, experts believe Martha Washington gave it to Hamilton's wife, her close friend Eliza. An inscription on the envelope, describing it as "Washington's hair," suggests Eliza gave it to her third son, James, who then gave it to his granddaughters, Louisa Lee Schuyler and Georgina Schuyler. While it's impossible to confirm the hair belonged to Washington—who didn't wear a wig and used powder to turn his reddish-brown hair white in his younger days, per National Geographic—manuscripts dealer John Reznikoff says it's "undoubtedly" his and likely worth up to $3,000, per USA Today. Union College now plans to put it on display. Special collections archivist India Spartz calls it "a tremendous testament to history and our connection to some of the most important historical figures." (Washington was surprisingly hard to kill.)