200 Year Old Chair Padded with Slave Hair

First It Was Slave Teeth for Dentures, Now Slave Hair for Furniture Stuffing

When I stumbled upon this recently posted video, it was not something I had ever heard of before. Posted on YouTube by Yisreael Ben Yehudah, the poster says he was restoring a 200-year-old chair for a client when he discovered it had been stuffed with slave hair. Slave hair?! Yep. See it for yourself.  On top of the human hair is a layer of cotton. Well, we know who grew and picked that cotton. Looks like they contributed a lot more than the toil and misery of their labors.

chair-stuffed-with-slave-hair

Photo: Screen capture of Yisreael Ben Yehudah’s YouTube video

Granted, in that time people used whatever was available to stuff mattresses and furniture and the like–horsehair, cattails, moss hanging from trees, corn shucks, whatever else was handy.  But I had never heard of slave hair! And the quantity of hair that is in this chair is mind-baffling. Painful. After watching his video, of course, my mind is running wild trying to imagine the circumstances of  what that collecting of hair must have been like for the slaves. I shudder at the thought; it makes me think of antebellum sheep shearing day. But now, of course, I am driven to find out.

Teeth, Hair; What Else Don’t You Know about Slave History?

It’s no secret that George Washington probably had dentures that included teeth from slaves–it is documented that he purchased “9 teeth from ‘Negroes’ for 122 shillings.”  (See number six on the list.)  Now we can add hair to the list of usable parts harvested from a slave.  And now I have a new topic added to my ever-expanding research list. Who knows–will this need to show up in my book? Thank you for sharing, Mr. Yehudah.

See Yisreael’s video here: 200-year-old chair padded with slave hair

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3 thoughts on “200 Year Old Chair Padded with Slave Hair

  1. What a lesson about the hair – no idea, though honestly and sadly so, I don’t think I should be so surprised, y’know. Right now I don’t wish to wrap my mind on how it was even obtained in spite of my imagination, given such a horrendous time. Thanks for sharing this and the links!

    • Crazy story, wasn’t it?! Oh the things we still don’t know…. And, I agree–I had never heard of that before, but then after a minute thought, I’m not surprised. What made me fall out of my chair was the QUANTITY of hair inside that ONE chair! I can’t family only did that with one chair. Which, sorry to say, only makes me ask, what was the practice for collecting all that hair (and more)? It makes me so sad.

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