by Richard Lovell
Posted In: Humor
at 10:31 AM | Permalink
Q&A with Julia and Anna Hider of 'Badass Civil War Beards'
It might seem impossible to celebrate both No Shave November and the
sesquicentennial of the Civil War, but Cincinnati natives Julia and Anna Hider
have just the solution.
Their blog-turned-book Badass
Civil War Beards showcases the best facial hair the war had to offer, from
the most recognized politicians to unidentified soldiers. There are
many aspects of 1860s America that have thankfully vanished over the last
century-and-a-half, but today’s modern man can learn plenty from the epic
facial styles of Union and Confederate soldiers.
sat down with Julia and Anna Hider to discuss their new book and all things
CityBeat: Where did you get the idea for the blog?
Hider: I was watching a History Channel documentary about the Lincoln
assassination, and I just noticed that everybody had crazy facial hair, and so
I texted Anna and I said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna write a blog about this, will you
go set one up?’ and she did. And she picked out the name and…here we are!
CB: Did it take
off pretty quickly?
Hider: I just have a personal Tumblr for stupid pictures, like dogs and stuff.
We started getting followers pretty quickly, I was kind of surprised — there are
obviously lots of people on Tumblr that have more followers than us, but I was
surprised by the history fandom — I guess you would say — of Tumblr, and how
many history nerds there are on there.
CB: Even though you were at different schools
[Ohio State and Syracuse], did you collaborate on it the whole time?
AH: We each
did one post a day.
CB: And how did it get on BuzzFeed?
AH: I did
that! But the thing is, it was a community post, but it made it on the front
page of buzzfeed.com
JH: So Anna
just wrote it.
AH: And I just
sent it out on the Internet.
JH: And the community
editors liked it, so they promoted it to the front of the community page, then
I guess more editors saw it and liked it and so they put it on the front page
of Buzzfeed, which is impressive for a community post.
AH: It was
like the first time they had done anything like that, so I’m like, ‘This is
easy.’ It was actually my second Buzzfeed [post]; my first one was called, “9 Giant
Rocks That Look Like Willies.”
JH: I really
think Buzzfeed helped us get the [book] deal.
CB: And what made you want to turn it into a
JH: I first thought
of it as a coffee table book, but I switched to the blog because it’s easier to
do. But I was on Tumblr one day and saw that Chronicle...
like the biggest indie book publisher.
JH: ...out of
San Francisco, I saw that they were having a contest and they were looking for
the next Tumblr blog to turn into a book, and they wanted to have this contest
so we entered it. And we didn’t win, but we got shortlisted, and that’s how we
got it out there that we were interested in publishing a book, but we didn’t
get the book deal for another year.
AH: It hasn’t
even been a year, it was like mid-November of last year.
CB: Was it hard turning it into a book?
really because we had a lot of stuff to draw on. When I write an everyday post,
I normally find [photos] on Wikipedia because it’s easier to click through and
you find one person, and that links to another person, and that links to
another person…But we went through the Library of Congress to write the book,
so all the pictures are from the Library and you can have the rights to those
because they’re over 150 years old.
they’re in the public domain. There are tons that we had never seen before,
like unidentified soldiers, doing weird stuff. There were two guys holding
pipes up to each other, and we’re like, ‘We had never seen this before. This is
a good mix of stuff that was popular on the blog or stuff that we really liked,
and there’s also a good amount of new stuff, too.
CB: If you
had to pick a side, who had better beards? The North or the South?
AH: This one
constantly torments me, because I know people are going to ask this. I want to
say the Confederates, but it’s probably the Union.
JH: I feel
like it has to be the Union because they were more urban and cosmopolitan.
AH: And they
had Ambrose Burnside, they had Abe Lincoln, they had tons of really creative
JH: The North
just had way more people in general. I think that’s part of it.
CB: Do you think crazy beards like that will ever
make a comeback?
JH: I think
they kind of are.
CB: It’s kind of like the hipster look. Is it a bad thing, though?
AH: Of course
JH: You can
express yourself through your facial hair.
looks good in a beard.
tried. Last year I did No Shave November and it was terrible.
CB: So do you have a most badass Civil War beard?
JH: I mean I
really like Ambrose Burnside, but I also like when people tried to copy him.
Sometimes it didn’t go so well. This one guy in the book, Gabriel Rains, it
just doesn’t look good on him. It just looks bad.
AH: I really
like Joe Revere, because he had a normal beard then he waxed it into like three
points. I don’t know why you would do that, but he did and it looks really
cool. Or Roswell Ripley, who just had the biggest mustache ever, and it’s kind
of gross looking.
CB: Is there any other period of time where you
think beards would rival [the Civil War]?
AH: Maybe caveman times.
JH: I think that’s really the only other time.
CB: But they
couldn’t shave, so that’s really sort of unfair.
JH: You could
sharpen a rock so it’s sharp enough to shave, right?
CB: So do you still post on the blog?
JH: Yea, I
think it was important to keep posting because I didn’t want to make our
followers feel like we had abandoned them because we were trying to write a
wouldn’t make sense to stop. We want more people to find out about it, and
start growing beards of their own.
CB: Do you have any next steps, plans after this?
JH: We don’t
have anything solid.
AH: But if we
could write another book, it might be about ladies, like Badass Civil War Babes.
we’ve been looking at guys’ faces every single day for almost three years, and
I kind of get sick of it. I try to bring in ladies whenever I can, but it’s not
that often. We’d like to give them some attention.
Julia and Anna Hider launch the release of Badass Civil War Beards tonight at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. For some inspiration on growing your own badass beard,
check out their blog at badasscivilwarbeards.tumblr.com.
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