A lock of George Washington’s hair has been discovered in an 18th century book at New York college.

According to a news release from Union College in upstate Schenectady, New York, a strand of white hair was found tucked inside an envelope between the pages of a book titled, Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the Year 1793. It is believed that these hairs belong to Washington. India Spartz, the head of Special Collection and Archives said, “This is a very significant treasure. It’s a tremendous testament to history and our connection to some of the most important historical figures.”

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John Myers, librarian, found the envelope inside the book, written on the envelope was “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & (scratched out) GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.” According to the news release inside the book was a letter belonging to the grandson of General Schuyler, James Alexander Hamilton, the third son of Alexander Schuyler Hamilton. Alexander and his wife Eliza were close friends to Washington and his wife Martha according to Ron Chernow’s biography on Hamilton.

Susan Holloway Scott, an independent scholar and author of the historical novel I Eliza Hamilton said, “In an era when people frequently exchanged hair as a keepsake, it’s quite probable that Martha had given Eliza some of George’s hair, which in turn was given to their son, James, who later distributed it, strand by stand as a precious memento to close friends and family members.” Officials from the Schuyler Mansion believe that James gave Washington’s hair to his granddaughters Louisa Lee Schuyler and Georgina Schuyler.

The hair hasn’t been tested to see if it’s an identical match to Washington’s, but the handwriting on the envelope was compared to James’s handwriting accompanying other strands of Washington’s hair held by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

John Reznikoff, a manuscripts and documents dealer said, “Without DNA, you’re never positive, but I believe it’s 100% authentic.”

Spartz is working to preserve the strands of hair, the book and the letter. A public display is planned for some time in the future.

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