We have found quite a number of rite of passage images of boys before and after their long hair and curls were cut. Sometimes this occurred at the same time a boy was breeched. Other mothers cut a boy's hair before or after his hair was cut. We are not even sure which was the most popular option.
There seems to be no consistent pattern here, at least no pattern that we can identify. As far as we can tell, simply family traditions are involved here. We know of no regional, ethnic, or social-class differences. These images unless they are identified are a little tricky to assess. This is because in some instances they may be portraits of siblings, either fratenal twins ot siblings close in age. Thus we are not always sure precisely what we are dealing with. Even if they are not rite of passage images they are very useful images showing period hair styles and gender and age differences. Here reader comments are always helpful. There are severalsuch images already archived on HBC and we will link them here as time permits.
We believe this is a before and after portait of a boy who has just had his curls cut (figure 1). Unfortunately there is no information available on these portraits. In this case he apparently was also breeched and the child in curls is also wearing a dress, albeit a dress with slight sailor styling. In the after portrait he is wearing a standard sailor suit. Perhaps it is not a before and after portrait and rather a brother-sister portait. Here we are just not sure. Perhaps our readers will have some insights. The portraits are undated, but we would guess were taken about 1905. The portraits may not have been taken on the same day, but we think they were taken at about the same time because of the mounging and background. One reason we think that the portraits are both of the same boy is the hair bows. This style of hair bows seems more common with boys than girls.
Here we have before and after portraits of George King from Buchannon, Michigan. He seems to have been called Georgie. He looks to be about 5 years old. In the before portrait he has ringlet curls done with a center part and white hairbows. He wears a crisp white Fauntleroy blouse with a ruffled collar nd and matching front and cuff ruffles. With the blouse he has a large colorful floppy bow. After his hair was cut short, Georgie got a new suit with sailor styled lapels. The portraits would have been taken on the same day or withon days of eavh other. Notice the same whicker chair in the background.
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. This was the most elabirate before and after scene that I have ecer noted. The photographs look to be taken about 1905-10.
Mother had this boy photographed before and after his hair was cut. He is unidentified, bit looks to be about 5-years old, perhaps 6 years. We suspect he was about to begin school. There is no information associated with the photograph such as location and date. We have no idea where the portrait was taken, but it looks like the late-1920s or early-30s. The shoes in particular look modern like the 1930s, but the rest of his outfit looks more like the 1920s. He had Dutch boy bangs which were cut short to a regular boys' hair cut, It certainly changed how he looked. One reader writes that the process may have been traumatic for the boy. We suspect it was more traumatic for mother. The boy wears a button-on short pants suit. We might call it an Oliver Twist suit. Note the large collar and string tie.
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