Facial Hair Friday: Father Time

It’s the first Facial Hair Friday of 2020—Happy New Year! Today we’re highlighting the old man with a long, white beard: Father Time.

Father Time is, as the name suggests, the personification of time. In the context of New Year’s he represents the outgoing year. He is often portrayed as an old, bearded man wearing a robe, and sometimes he has wings. He carries a scythe and an hourglass, which represent the inevitable passage of time.

Clifford Berryman, who was a cartoonist for the Washington Post and Washington Evening Star in the first half of the 20th century, featured Father Time in many of his cartoons. 

This particular cartoon, called “A Packing Problem,” appeared in the Washington Evening Star on December 31, 1913. It shows Father Time wondering how to pack all of the major events of 1913 into a case that appears too small. 

“A Packing Problem,” by Clifford K. Berryman, Washington Evening Star, 12/31/1913. (National Archives Identifier: 6011022)

The major events of 1913 included the ratification of both the 16th Amendment (giving Congress the power to tax income) and the 17th Amendment (providing for the direct election of Senators) and the Democrats retaking the White House with inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. Other events included the introduction of parcel post, which became available to Americans that year; the first successful ascent of Mount McKinley (now known as Denali); the continued Mexican Revolution; the Great Flood in the Ohio Valley; the SS Volturno disaster in the North Atlantic; and the first meaningful tariff revision in decades, among others. 

Interested in more Clifford Berryman cartoons? They are all available in the National Archives Catalog.

4 thoughts on “Facial Hair Friday: Father Time

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