Putting a Face on the First President

From Scientific American:Washington

My foray into American history started when James C. Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate, asked me whether I could re-create the way Washington, who was born in 1732 and died in 1799, had looked at three important points in his life. Rees wanted these life-size figures for Mount Vernon’s new education center, which will open in the fall of 2006. The 19-year-old Washington would be depicted in 1751, during his early career as an adventurer and surveyor. The 45-year-old would be shown in 1777, when he and his troops were bivouacked during the dreadful winter at Valley Forge, waiting for a chance to attack the British, who had occupied the city of Philadelphia. These two figures would complement a third portrayal, the 57-year-old Washington being sworn in on April 30, 1789, as the first president, a role he chose instead of the alternative he had been offered: becoming king.

My work as a forensic anthropologist for the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, coroner’s office has augmented this experience. But nothing prepared me for the curious challenges involved in figuring out what Washington actually looked like.

More here.