May 7, 2012
Pacific University archivists uncover a hairy moment in the University's history.Jenni Luckett | Editor
My husband is always jokingly prodding me about what we will name our secret society. Nevermind that we don’t have a secret society, or any reason for one; he just likes the notion.
Apparently, a little more than a century ago, some Pacific University students liked the idea, too.
Staff in the Pacific University Archives recently uncovered the constitution and bylaws of The Ancient Order of United Mustache Growers, chartered at Pacific in 1904.
Signed by five members, the one-page document stipulates that membership is open to anyone over the age of 16 who is willing to attempt to raise a mustache. (The membership requirements do not specify a gender requirement, though all five signers were, in fact, male.)
Members each signed the following pledge:
“I do hereby solemnly pledge myself to support and uphold the constitution and bylaws of the society and to keep by force, if necessary, any razor, scissors, or other instrument from being used on my upper lip for the period of eight weeks from April 1, and to aid all other members in keeping this pledge.”
The penalty for violating the pledge was an obligation to provide an oyster supper to all other members.
Particularly interesting is the notion that members may have to use force to avoid having their mustaches shaved. I thought, perhaps, members might try to forcibly shave one another in order to gain the promised oyster dinner.
But, then, the pledge also requires all society members to help each other keep to the challenge.
So, maybe in 1904 there were marauding bands of anti-mustache barbers on campus? (Forest Grove—Lincoln Park, on the north edge of campus, in fact—is home to the World Largest Barber Shop Pole, but that wasn’t dedicated until 1973, and then it was more about barbershop quartets than facial hair styles.)
History is full of these kind of crazy mysteries. Explore some of Pacific University’s history on the first Wednesday of each month, when Old College Hall, now the University museum, is open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m.
Take a guided tour or just wander around looking at the memorabilia from the University’s history. You won’t find the Ancient Order of United Mustache Growers in there, but you might find something just as interesting, or even inspiration for your own secret society.