Figure 1.--This American boy had his curls cut at age 5 or 6 years old. This photograph was taken about 1905-10. Itlooks tonhave been taken about a year before the images below.

Boys' Ringlet Curls: Rite of Passage--Hugh James

Hugh was an American boy who had his curls cut at about age 5 or 6. His mother decided to have his curls photographed in great detail and we have several before and after photographs. Interesting, all eight ringlets were then tied on a ribbon for safe keeping. The photographs look to be taken about 1905-10.


Hugh was an American boy who had his curls cut at about age 5 or 6. One photograph shows Hugh at age 5 years. It is a front and side photograph. Clearly his mother wanted a very detailed record of her sons' curls. The other photographs are undated. The photograph of him after his curls were cut is undated. It looks to be taken sometime after the front and side photograph. He may have been 6 years old when his curls were actually cut.

Hair Style

One observer descibes Hugh's first hair style as child's hood hair curls. I have not heard that term before. His mother has left us a very detailed view of Hugh's curls with both a front and side shot. His curls are quite thick, but not very long. His ringlets are worn well off his shoulder. There are eight rather thick curls all together. They appear to be about the same length, although strangely worn at different length.

Actual Cutting

HBC is not sure where the actual cutting took paace. Presumably photographers did not want the hair cut in their studios. Notably these photographs never show the hair actually being cut. One wonders if his curls were cut at home with a little ceremony or he was taken to a barber shop.

Figure 2.--Hugh is seen here with his pet cat, just before his curls were cut.

Actual Photography

There is a very interesting collection of photos that show Hugh before and after his first haircut. Unfortunately the precise dates are unavailable. There looks to be some difference in time between the photographs, in part because he wears different clothes. But there does not appear to be a great difference, perhaps no more than a year.


The series of photo include four photo post cards. All the cards are unused with the AZO with 4 triangles up mark on the back that dates them form 1904-19. The clothing styles, however suggest to HBC that the photographs were probanly taken about 1905-10, perhaps a little latter.


The photographers mark reads "Heath, Pontiac Illinois". One of the post cards is marked Cullom Illinois. (The paper booklet for the PCs is marked St Louis.)

Figure 3.--Here we see Hugh on the same day as figure 2. He holds his eight ringlets all securelybtied to a ribbon. Notice how different he looks without his curls.


Hugh in both photographs wears a sailor styled garment, but with non traditional styling. The type of garment may be a striped tunic suit. I'm not sure what the color was. The botoom outfit is a very fancy sailor suir with a large scalloped collar. It looks to be a white suit or a pastel shade. The sailor collar has an embroidered flower. He wears his blouse woth above the knee knickers, long white stockings, and patent leather two strap shoes with a bow.


There is also a photograph of Hugh one with his cat. A beautiful tiger stripe kitty!. Presumably this was Hugh's idea to be photographed with the family cat. The cat, however, does not look very copy.

Keep Sake

Some one, surely nother, has tied the curls onto a ribbon to save for a keepsake. All eight ringlets were then tied on the ribbon for safe keeping. I'm not sure what color the ribbon was. All of these portraits were also tied into a little booklet.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: April 2, 2001
Last edited: April 2, 2001