** American boys hair styles : parting alternatives -- country trends United States

American Hair Parts: Parting Alternatives

Figure 1.--Here we see a caninet card four unidentified children about 1-7 years old with center and side hair parts. The portrait is undated, but the mount styles suf=ggests the 1900s decade. The children are probably three girls and a boy. The younger child is prbably a boy because the sailor dress was done rather as a blouse kilt suit--a boy's style. The other children are all wearing identical ginham dressess, suggesting they are all girls. If one or more was a boy, theu would be nore likelt to be dressed like the younger child. What is interesting is that two of the girls have side parts. Side parts are usually an indicatiin that the chils is a boy. But as we see here, it was noy a fool-proof indicator. The studio was D. Stadin in Cambridge, Minnesota.

Hair parts are an easy subject to follow, at least once photography was invented. We have a huge photographic record to draw on once photography was invented beginning in the 1840s. There were two major ways for parting hair. Side parts were the most common for bpys. Here the basic choice was left or right. As most people are right-handed, left parts are the most common. It is easier for a right-handed person to do a left than a right part. The more complicated matter is just where to do the part, how far to come down the side of the head. This varied,but most boys parted their hair far away from the crown. Generally we see side parts about half-way between the top of the ear and the boy's crown. The other basic alternative is a center part. This is the less common alternative, at least for boys. It was very common for girls as it was a way of dealing with long hair. A center part is the sungle most valid indicator that the child in unidentified old photographs is a girl. While overwealming associated with girls, we do see boys with center parts. During certin periods, however, it was very popular for boys as well, even boys with short hair. Even during a few brief periods in which we see boys with center prts, side parts were virtually universal for boys. And even during the periods in which we do see boys with center parts, most boys still had side parts.

Side Parts

The great majority of photographic images we have noted in which parts are destinct, show boys with side parts, especially left parts -- although center parts were popular during certain relatively short periods. There are of coursre two basic options, lerft and right, but there are greater variatiion in that the part can be done at the side are higher up the head closer to the crown. We note variations over time. We note mostly side parts during the 19th century. A good example is two unidentified New York City children in the mid-19th century. The preponderance of left parts probably reflects the fact that most people or right handed. An American reader tells us, "I imagine my experience is rather common. My mother combed my hair was a younger boy and on special occassions would supervise or even pitch in even when I was well into primary school. It was always combed on the left which I never gave much thought to. The only variance was in the 1950s when I had a crew cut. Here there was so little hair at the sides and the rest of the hair so short that there wasn't much of a part to contend with." The most complicated matter is just where to do the part, how far to come down the side of the head. This varied,but most boys parted their hair far away from the crown. Generally we see side parts about half-way between the top of the ear and the boy's crown. We notice American boys in the mid-19th century with double side pants. A good example is an unidentified boy in the 1860s. There was some variarion as to how far dowmn the side of the head the part was made. We note parts rather high up on the head during the era that center parts were popular. One example is an unidentified violinist. While left parts were the most common, we also notice some right parts. A good example of a right part is Thomas Smith in the 1840s.

Center Parts

We note center parts were fashionable for boys in the early-20th century and we notice them to a lesser extent in the late-20th century. I'm not sure how common this was in other countries, but we see many American boys at the time with center parts. It is side parts, however, that are the dominant trend. Right parts are much less common. Generally speaking the center part was primaril a girl's style. This was probably because it was away of separaing hair for a variety of long hair styles. There were times though that we note boys with center parts. The early 20th century was one of these periods. Here we note this as a teenage more than a younger boy style. We also note some boys with center parts in the 1990s. While we have found boys with center parts, we note center parts have been much more common for girls. This of course was often with long hair, but girls also wore short hair with center parts. Hair styles including the parts can be useful in assessing gender, but there is enough variety in the photographic record that there was no way to be absolutely sure.

Near Center Parts

We notice some hair parts that are near center parts. We notice this mostly with boys. Girls hair is commonly center parts, invsribly done right down the middle. Boys' parts are more variable. And we see some that look look like they are meant to be cnter parts, but are not quite there. They are often so well done that it seems likely that this was the look intended. We notice quite a few examples of this, especially around the turn of the 20th century. A good example is Maine boy, Charles Bullock. It is part that Charles was attempting a center part and just did not get in right. We just do not know.

No Parts

Some hair styles did not have parts, at least not noticeable parts from the front views commonly used for portraits and other photographs. This included bangs styles where the hair at the front was combed forward. There were quite a range of boys hair styles with bangs, included both long and short hair styles. Some bangs cuts had parts, but they are not often readily discerrnable in photographs that mostly just show the fronts with the bangs obsvuring the part. Also very short hair styles did not have parts/ Thee were seveal such styles. They included like cropped hair and crew cuts or relared stles like butch cuts and flat tops do not have noteable parts. A good example are two unidentified boys in 1937.


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Created: 3:29 PM 5/26/2021
Last updated: 7:43 PM 3/5/2022