** cropped hair country trends

Cropped Hair: Country Trends

Figure 1.--We see large numbers of German boys with cropped hair during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Two of the boys here wear sailor suits.

The shaved hair style appears to have been adopted first in Prussia. It was a raical departure from the elaborate whihs that even soldiers wore in the 18th century. The Prussian influence brought shave heads to other areas of the German Empire after it was formed in 1870-71. Prussian incluence helped popularize the shave head styles in several other countries, mostly notably Russia and Japan. HBC believes that the close cropped hair in some countries was a style required by schools--but has few details at this time. Japanese boys until recently also wore shaved cuts.


We do not see very many American boys with cropped hair. This appears to be the case in the 19th century. And the boys we note with cropped hair seem to be mostly younger boys. Short cropped cuts do not seem to have been nearly as popular in the late 19th and early 20th century as they were in Europe. We have not seen a lot of images of American boys with cropped hair during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We have, however, seen some imaages. This varied from country to country, but wa especially common in Germany and Russia. We see these crooped cut much less in America. Here we are primarily assessing popularity based on the prevalence in the photographic record. We think that by the 1890s this was a very strong indictor. We suspect that many of the American boys who did have cropped hair were the children of relatively recent immigrants, but this is difficult to determine solely from the phootographic record. Children arriving in America were wearing European styles. They quickly channged, however to American styles. Not only were most children anxious to fit in, but of course the stoes only offered American styles. Cropped hair has been popular at times. We notice boys wearing styles like crew cuts and flat tops, similar to the basic crop, in the 1950s and early 60s. It did use to be a summer ritual for boys to get short hair cuts. Cropped hair was also briefly popular in the 1990s. Generally speaking, however, it was not one of the more popular boys' in the United States.


Shaved head styles appear to have been adopted by military schools. I am not sure to what extent that school boys had shaved heads. Some available images do suggest that many school boys did have shaved heads.


We have not noted many images of Canadian boys with cropped hair, but we have seen some. The small number we have noted may be because most of the images we have archived are boys from middle-class and other affluent families. Shaved heads appear to be primarily a style worn by working-class and farm families. One example here is the Bartle brothers around the turn-of-the-20th century.


HBC has note school children with close cropped hair in the late 19th children. We do not yet know when this style first appeared.



We notice many late-19th and early-20th century images of French boys with cropped hair. It does not seem to have been as common as in Germany, but we see quite a few such images. We have, however, little information on this style in France. We note cropped hair in many Europen countries. )Interestingly, these cropped styles were much less common in America and Britain.) We are not sure why these style were so common. Fathers my have liked them, but we doubt that they appealed to mothers. We suspect that some schools may have promoted them for health reasons. They had a military look. We note that the French after the loss to the Germans in the Franco-Prussuan war introducd military stles in schools. This was part of a larger policy to build paritism and military vigor in French schools. But of course cropped hair was not just a French style. So cropped hair was mot just an outcome of the war, although it could have been a contrinuting influence. The whole issue of cropped hair is one tht we have not yet pursued in detail. We are not entirely sure what the causes for cropped hair was and the chronological trends. We are not yet sure to what extent French boys had cropped hsir in the early-20th century. Hopefully our French readers will be able to provide some insights.


Many German school boys in the late 19th and 20th century had shave heads. A German reader tells us thast these cuts would have been called "sehr kurz geschorenes Haar" (literally translation: very short clipped hair). After unification in 1870 this was accepted by some of the German states, but not all. Some states objected, such as Bavaria. But the other more militaristic states were quick to adopt the hair styles at the highly respected Prussian schools, if they had not already done so prior to unification. Military schools in the German Empire after 187O may have had little choice, since they were hoping that many of the graduates would go into the military and adopting this style was seen as a good way to fit in! The style was not just worn at military schools. HBC has noted large numbers of German boys with shaved are closely cropped hair. THis strongly suggests that it was a rule enforce by schools. HBC does not, however, have any details on this. Shaved heads continured to be a common style through World War I and into the 1920s. I have not noted German boys wearing shaved heads in the 1930s. Despite the military obsesson of the NAZIs, they did not appear to have been particularly interested in shaved head hair styles. One might have thought that the milatarism of the NAZIs might have reinspired it, but this was not the case. This could have reflected the NAZI leadership's desire not to emphasize their clear desire to launch another war.


The Japanese were stunned by the US forcing them to open their doors to the West in the 1850s. Thereafter they copied the British Navy style for their navy and the Prussian Army style for their army as part of a larger modernization program. I have noted Japanese school boys wearing shaved heads in the 1920s. It is likely that the style was introduced even earlier. I', not sure about the origins, it could have been introduced at the same time the Japanese adopted the Prussian cadet uniform for school boys. The style persisted in Japan for years. Some secondary school boys shaved their heads into the 1970s.

(The) Netherlands

I thought I noticed Dutch boys with cropped hair in the early 20th century, like German boys. I could be wrong about that. Our archive of Dutch images is still limited. A Dutch reader tells us, "I really don't know about the erly 20th century. I was born in 1928. By my own observation and memory, boys in Holland had short hair, and not cropped or shaven heads. Long hair started to be fashionable in the 1950s and 60s. The first persons with shaved heads in the Netherlands (May 1945) were girls and women who had affairs with German soldiers during the occupation. I don't remember ever seeing boys with cropped or shaved hair in Holland."


Polish boys also wore shaved heads. This again was probably the Prussian influencce. Poland did not exist in the 19th century, but had been incorporated into Prussian/German, Austrian, and Russian territories. These were all countries where schoolboys often had shaved heads. This was still common when Poland became an independent country after World War I. A good example is the The Chciuk family.


Prussia appears to be where the shaved hair styles for European schools boys originated. One HBC contributor reports that the style appeared in the late 1870s and early 1880s in Prussian schools, after Prussia ha helpe fore the German Empire. HBC can not confirm this chronolgy. HBC has little infomation on this. I do not know if the hair style was required by their schools, or was simply what their parents decided. It would appear to be a military-inspired style, but again I have no details. Shaved heads were probably common in military school. I'm less sure about other schools. A HBC contributor reports that in Prussia, children would start school at a later age than here, say 7 years and possibly even 8. Prior to boarding school, mum would decide on the dress; however, in the cadets (military school); the first day's dress was a reflection of the father and the clothing was important. On the Prussian style, it included shaved heads as the Prussian officers were known for doing. I do not think Father's actually picked out the clothes, but they did approve of the appearance. As such, I assume that the shaved head of the father would often be reflected in the shaved head of the son. Ceratinly the syle seems to be more likely to be a school rule or selected by father rather than mother. This style was adopted for children once entering the school because officers had shaved heads.


Tsar Nicholas I who succeeded Alexander II and preceded Alexander III was enamored of all things Prussian. This may have included cropped hair for the military. Though the reign of this Tsar was in the 1840s and 50s. The influence may have continued with Alexander III who often was photographed in military uniforms. Russian school boys also had cropped hair. I have first noted this style in the early 20th century, but Russian boys may have begun shaving their heads in the late 19th century. Here we do not yet have an extensive archive. Again the original influence may have been the Prussians. The shaved head style persisted in Russia even after the Bolshevik Revolution (1917). I have noted some Russian school boys with shaved heads into the 1950s. I'm unsure as to just which boys had their heads shaved and whether is was a school rule or parents choice.


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Created: 3:43 AM 10/13/2006
Last updated: 1:30 AM 11/27/2014