Lincoln – right or left?

One of the surprising elements of the feature about the Hair Part Theory done on the NPR Radiolab show (, was that a big picture of Lincoln was shown to the live audience and then flipped to show him with a right hair part. There was a collective gasp from the audience because it was so different! On their website, you can try the flip by clicking on the Lincoln picture.   To put the gasp in context, the live show actually pushed it onto a 20 foot high screen, which really made an impact.

Turns out, when we were first researching whether Lincoln parted on the right or left, the data  can be very confusing. The original photographic record was done with daguerreotypes, which print a reversed image by default. History books will tend to flip it back, just to get the image right. The clue as to which is correct is that Lincoln had a little bump on his right cheek, and this certifies that he wore his hair parted on the left.

However, one of the most popular pictures of Lincoln appears on the 5 dollar bill, which as you can see below, shows Lincoln with a right part.  This was a true image, as you can see by the bump on his right cheek.  Turns out, the day of that picture turned to an engraving, the stylist put his hair on the other side for some reason







Here is a picture of the real Lincoln actually – its quite different, and your initial assessment of his character and strength are modified as well.













Check this out: his punk looking Lincoln with no hair part – can you imagine?

lincoln_no part

Here is the story from Time magazine:









Also, here are the same images flipped:  Check your initial assessment of his character and strength and likability with the hair on the opposite side.  also, notice that with a no hair part, the difference isn’t so strong, as well as your assesment















lincoln_no part_rev


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