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Politics of the Past: The changing (male) face of politics

Editor’s note: This summer and fall, Capitol Report is dipping into the Minnesota Historical Society’s political archives and scooping out documents and artifacts exploring the state’s rich record of voting reforms, colorful politicians, contested elections, curious facial hair and more.

Devoted readers of this history column — or, rather, readers of the editor’s note that precedes it — have been patiently waiting for the exposure of a highly visible feature of Minnesota’s political past.

Now, with the nation in turmoil, it’s time to withdraw briefly from our woolly political reality by looking back at our state’s long history of electing legislators with curious facial hair.

Best overall facial hair

Sen. Eugene St. Julien Cox, D-Nicollet, elected 1872

Sen. Eugene St. Julien Cox, D-Nicollet, elected 1872

Best beards

Rep. Albert Tuttle, Brown County, elected 1857; Rep. John Harrington Stevens, Carver County, elected 1857; Rep. George O. Way, Dodge County, elected 1857

Rep. Albert Tuttle, Brown County, elected 1857; Rep. John Harrington Stevens, Carver County, elected 1857; Rep. George O. Way, Dodge County, elected 1857

Best mustaches

Sen. William Sprigg Hall, D-Ramsey, elected 1859; Rep. Edmund J. Fuchs, R-Ramsey, elected 1910; Sen. David Wallace Illsley, Rice County, elected 1922

Sen. William Sprigg Hall, D-Ramsey, elected 1859; Rep. Edmund J. Fuchs, R-Ramsey, elected 1910; Sen. David Wallace Illsley, Rice County, elected 1922

Facial hair that best eludes frame of photograph

Rep. Andrew Miller, R-St. Louis, elected 1898

Rep. Andrew Miller, R-St. Louis, elected 1898

Most regrettable facial hair

Rep. Robert George Marshall, Sr., Hennepin County, elected 1930

Rep. Robert George Marshall, Sr., Hennepin County, elected 1930

Best facial hair by decade

1850s

Sen. Dennis William Chauncey Dunwell, Dakota County, elected 1857

Sen. Dennis William Chauncey Dunwell, Dakota County, elected 1857

1860s

Rep. John Gage, Wabasha County, elected 1869

Rep. John Gage, Wabasha County, elected 1869

1870s

Rep. George A. Wells, Dakota County, elected 1871

Rep. George A. Wells, Dakota County, elected 1871

1880s

Sen. Calvin Siscoe Powers, Fillmore County, elected 1880

Sen. Calvin Siscoe Powers, Fillmore County, elected 1880

1890s

Sen. Frederic Iltis, R-Carver, elected 1894

Sen. Frederic Iltis, R-Carver, elected 1894

1900s

Rep. John T. Johnson, Otter Tail County, elected 1906

Rep. John T. Johnson, Otter Tail County, elected 1906

1910s

Rep. Albert B. Peterson, R-Mahnomen, elected 1912

Rep. Albert B. Peterson, R-Mahnomen, elected 1912

1920s

Rep. O.K. Dahle, Fillmore County, elected 1922

Rep. O.K. Dahle, Fillmore County, elected 1922

1930s

Rep. John Prestegard, Yellow Medicine County, elected 1934

Rep. John Prestegard, Yellow Medicine County, elected 1934

1940s

Rep. Bernard Francis Ederer, Stevens County, elected 1942

Rep. Bernard Francis Ederer, Stevens County, elected 1942

1950s

Rep. Peter Stephen Popovich, Ramsey County, elected 1952

Rep. Peter Stephen Popovich, Ramsey County, elected 1952

1960s

Rep. Glenn A. Blomquist, Kanabec County, elected 1962

Rep. Glenn A. Blomquist, Kanabec County, elected 1962

1970s

Rep. David R. Cummiskey, DFL-Blue Earth, elected 1972

Rep. David R. Cummiskey, DFL-Blue Earth, elected 1972

1980s

Rep. Tom J. Shea, DFL-Dodge, elected 1980

Rep. Tom J. Shea, DFL-Dodge, elected 1980

1990s

Sen. Mark Ourada, R-Hennepin, elected 1994

Sen. Mark Ourada, R-Hennepin, elected 1994

2000s

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Blue Earth, elected 2002

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Blue Earth, elected 2002

2010s

Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Hennepin, elected 2010

Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Hennepin, elected 2010

All images are courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

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