American boys wore generally short hair in the early 19th century. Most images from the early 19th century show boys with short hair. We are not real sure, however, about actual styles. Our information on the early 19th century, however, is limited. Bowl cuts were common in frontier America as they were so simple to do. We have much more information by the mid-19th century because of the development of photograohy. Hair styles by mid-century had become longer, often worn to or even over the ears. A good example is an unidentified Boston boy during the 1860s. Some younger boys wore long-shoulder length hair, often done in ringlet curls. There were a range of conventions. In many families when the boy's hair was done in ringlets, the girl's hair was done in other styles.
A good example is the Powell children in 1886. While we note countless images of boys with ringlets, inly a small minority of boys wre them. Most boys had short hair in the late 1th century, shorter than was commn in the mid-19th century. There were a variety of other styles. but there were various styles. Only a minority of boys wore ringlets, but numerous late-19th century images show that it was a popular styles, at least on the mother's part.
American boys wore generally short hair in the early 19th century. Most images from the early 19th century show boys with short hair. We are not real sure, however, about actual styles. Our information on the early 19th century, however, is limited. Bowl cuts were common in frontier America as they were so simple to do.
Without photography we have limited views of hair styling through the 1830s. Painted portaits provide some imformation, but focus primarily on the well-to-do would could afford a painted portrait. Now portraits by early American naive artists were not as expensive as thise by the great masters, but they were expoensive enough to ensure that they mostly depicted the upper strata of Anerican society. The young boys of the Adams family have their hair cut off their ears although the two boys wear their hair at different lengths (1831). We note an unientified Peckham portrait depicting two identified children both with short haie, althouh one might be a girl. We think the portrait was painted in the 1830s. The Rankin boys have short relatively modern looking cuts, althoughbthecolder boy's hair is a little longer thn the younger boy (1838). The Raymond boys sport very modern looking standard hair cuts, although they are still wearing dresses. (about 1838). Stephen Ball Alling also had short hair even as a very young boy whoch looks like it has been styled (1839).
We have much more information by the mid-19th century about fashion and hair styles because of the development of photograohy. A substantial number of photographic portraits become available for the first time in the 1840s, while small by later standards, the number of available images was a quatum leap from the number of portraits painted in previous decades. The number of images means that we have a much wider range of social backgrounds depicted. Early Daguerotypes were not cheap, but they were only a fraction of the cost of a painted portrait. That means that they were within the price range of the middle-class as well as some working=class families. Daguerreotypes show that hair styles by mid-century had become longer, often worn to or even over the ears. We think that this was a chronolgical trend, but it is possible that social clss was a factor. Less well to do parets might not be a careful with hair grooming. This is something that we need to work out. The problem here is that most Dags ar undated and we find it diffcult to destinguish between 1849s and 50s Dags. A good example is an unidentified American boy about 1847. We also note Clarence E. Summer about te same time. And at the same time we see some girls with short hair. Thus identifying the gender of younger children in the 1840s daguerreotypes can be quite difficult. We note an unidentified American child who we think was photographed in the 1840s. We might have thought the child was a boy, but the center part suggests a girl. We note a nataly dressed young teenager with long hair.
Photographic portraits becone even more common in the 1850s. New processes appeared, including ambrotypes and tintypes. Dags are difficult to date, but Anbros are either from the mid- or late-1850s or very early-60s. We note a lot of examples of American boys with hair cuts of varying length during the 1850s. Many boys wore their hair down to or over their ears, as did adult men at the time. Short hair dies not seem very common. Some of the cuts look rather modern. Looking at the hair cuts one gets the impression that many boys did not go to the barber very often. Of course mother probably cut their hair in mny cases, but we note several boys with not very well groomed hair. We do not see the famous bowl cut, perhaps this was more commoin in rural areas. We suspect that most portraits in the 1850s were city boys. This becomes less common in the 1860s, perhaps asign of riing prosperity. We note a range of different lengths, but we rarely see really long hair. The Wallis brothers, for example, in 1852 all had their hair cut off their ears. We also see plenty of images of boys with longer styles. A good example is unidentified Danbury boy in 1855. We note an unidntified boy, probably in the late 1850s. We notice John Van Horn who has his ears almost completely covered in 1859.
The development of negative formats (CDVs and cabinent cards) which lowered prices meant that there was an explosion in the number of photographic portraits. Thus allows us to more fully follow hair style developments. Younger boys might have longer hair even ringlets, but we do not notice any really long cuts like long ringlet curls. We even note boys not yet breeched with short hair. A good example is an American boy in 1865. An example of a young boy who has been breeched is C. Stewart in 1865. Shorter cuts continued to become more popular in the 1860s, but we still see boys with longer cuts. A good example is an unidentified Boston boy during the 1860s.
The 1870s was a transition decade in terms of boys' hair styles. We note quite a few boys in the 1860s with longish hair. Here we mean hair fown to the ears, noy long, dhoulder-length hair. The basic trend was for shorter hair. We still see some boys with longish hair in the 1870s, mostly at the beginning of the decade. By the end of the decade most boys had short hair. The trend for shorter hair was not as pronounced for pre-school boys. Some younger boys might have curls or otherv fabcy styles like a top curl or hair conb sown on the fore head. Short hair was the standard. We see a few boys with cropped hair, but this was not very common. Most boys had hair long enough to comb with a side part. Some boys had bangs.
Most American boys in the 1880s had short hair. The longer styles common at mid-century were no longer common. The decade is noteable, however, for the elaborate hair styles that some boys wore. Some younger boys wore long-shoulder length hair, often done in ringlet curls. There were a range of conventions. In many families when the boy's hair was done in ringlets, the girl's hair was done in other styles. A good example is the Powell children in 1886. While we note countless images of boys with ringlets, inly a small minority of boys wre them. Most boys had short hair in the late-19th century, shorter than was commn in the mid-19th century. There were a variety of other styles. but there were various styles. Only a minority of boys wore ringlets, but numerous late-19th century images show that it was a popular styles, at least on the mother's part
Most American boys in the 1890s had short hair cuts. We see a range of hair styles, but short cuts were by far the most common. Short cuts had become fairly standard for boys. We do not see many boys with cropped hair as was common on the Continent. Even immigrant boys arriving with cropped hair soon let their hair grow out, adopting American styles. While cropped hair was not common, relatively short styles were. Bowl cuts were
common in rural areas. We also see bangs. Most American boys wore their hair long enough for side parts. The two brothers here are a good example (figure 1). Despite the popularity of short hair for boys, the 1890s were the height of popularity for ringlet curls. In fact they declined somewhat in popularity for boys because so many boys, albeit younger boys were wearing them. Ringlet curls were also won by some boys, mostly pre-school boys. Ringlets while a minority style were much more common in America than in Europe.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing hair style pages:
[Return to the Main American hair style chronology page]
[Return to the Main American page]
[Return to the Main national boys' hair style page]
[Bangs] [Ringlet curls] [Hair bows] [Curls] [Caps] [Collar bows]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]