Guide to the Nathaniel Mathis Collection of Barbering and Beauty Culture
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0641
Creators:
Mathis, Nathaniel, 1946- (barber, motivational speaker)
Dates:
1946-2004
bulk 1970-2004
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
5.5 Cubic feet
18 boxes, 1 oversize folder
Repository:
Nathaniel Mathis is a Washington, D.C., hairstylist, inventor, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. His papers document his business life and community involvement.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents the work of a hairstylist, inventor, entrepreneur, and public figure whose career reflects significant changes in the African American community in the later 20th century. It is rich in visual imagery created by and for this community. Business papers, correspondence, publicity, photographs, awards and certificates documenting Mathis's work as a highly regarded barber and hairstylist in Washington, D.C., and as member of the D.C. Board of Barbering and Cosmetology are included. Business papers offer insight into the workings of a small privately-owned business. Numerous publicity items and photographs offer evidence of African American style and fashion in New York and Washington, D.C., from the late 1960s through today. Additional material documents Mathis's activities as a community activist, motivational speaker and distance runner. The collection also includes photographs, oral history interviews, and audio-visual materials.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into ten series.
Series 1: Biographical Information and Activities, 1946-2001, undated
Series 2: Beauty Business Documents and Advertising, 1969-2002, undated
Series 3: Publicity, 1963-2002
Series 4: Washington, D.C. Barbering and Cosmetology Boards, 1966-1997, undated
Series 5: Correspondence, 1967-2002, undated
Series 6: Awards and Certificates, 1969-2001, undated
Series 7: Photographs, 1966-1989, undated
Series 8: Video Materials, 1983-2002, undated
Series 9: Audio Tapes, 1998-2004, undated
Series 10: Memorabilia, 1992-1998, undated

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
"Nat Mathis (b. 1946) is a native Washingtonian. He is a man of many talents and measures his success in many ways: innovative hairstylist, entrepreneur, inventor, community activist, motivational speaker and distance runner. Mathis opened his first barber shop in 1969. He is the winner of many national and international hairstyling awards and competitions and was the first African American to win the International Hair Styling competition in Cairo, Egypt in 1981. Mathis was among the first African American hairstylists to embrace and popularize the Afro and, later, cornrows -- hairstyles which many view as expressions of black empowerment. Mathis himself seldom expresses a political ideology of hair, but by 1970, Nat was known among his many satisfied clients and peers as "the Bush Doctor" for his expertise in Afro style and maintenance. He has styled hair for many celebrities; made numerous television appearances; and has been a stylist for several productions at the Kennedy Center, and for two major motion pictures, including Nixon, for which he re-created period hairstyles. He is active in community affairs, gives motivational speeches throughout the Washington, D.C., area, and is particularly interested in mentoring young people. He currently operates a barber shop adjacent to his home in Capitol Heights, Maryland."
*Biographical information provided by Nat Mathis's Official Website, "A Man of Many Talents." http://www.natmathis.com (accessed 02 August, 2006).

Administration
Author
Mimi Minnick
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History by Nathaniel Mathis on April 9, 1998.
Processing Information
Processed by Mimi Minnick, archivist, 1998.
Separated Materials
Mr. Mathis donated three of his patented barbering vests (See Accession # 1998.0114) to the Division of Home and Community Life (now Division of Cultural and Community Life).
Accruals
An additional .3 cubic feet was donated to the Archives Center in 2004; 3 audio cassettes, 1 DVD and 2 mini discs were added in 2006.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The copllection is open for research.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Technical Access: Series 8, Video materials and Series 9, Audiotapes may not be used by researchers unless reference and viewing copies are made available.
Preferred Citation
Nathaniel Mathis Collection of Barbering and Beauty Culture, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. The Archives Center does not own rights to the patent, trademark or any related interest in the artifacts.

More Information

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
African American barbers Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American beauty operators Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barbers Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barbering Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barbershops -- Equipment and supplies -- 1970-2000 -- Washington (D.C) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beauty culture Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Certificates Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 1970-2000 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hair Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hairdressing of African Americans -- 1970-2000 -- Washington (D.C.) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews -- 1980-2000 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews -- 2000-2010 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventors Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motivation -- Public speaking -- 1970-2000 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history -- 1990-2000 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1950-2000 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Public speaking -- 1970-2000 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington (D.C.) -- Small business -- 20th century Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ruffins, Fath Davis Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
https://americanhistory.si.edu/archives