As the days grow hot and humid in Washington, D.C., my mind turns to summer haircuts. A look back offers a reminder of reasons beyond the purely seasonal for hair cutting.
This print from our Popular Graphic Arts collection depicts a character in the novel The Guardian Angel by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The story originally came out serially in the Atlantic Monthly and was published in book form in 1867. We’re seeing the point in the novel where orphan Myrtle Hazard makes preparations to disguise herself as a boy and run away from her uncongenial aunt. Good-bye flowing tresses!
Short hair in aid of flight took on a whole different meaning for this aviation worker in 1943. While keeping her hair short was a safety measure, I suspect it wasn’t necessarily a time saver, as those tiers of waves and curls look as though they took some time to achieve.
The topic of hair cutting brought to mind two more prints from our Popular Graphic Arts collection that had earlier caught the eye of my colleague, Kristi. The prints suggest that men kept their short hair short in the 1880s and 1890s for reasons of style. And how handily the charts lay out the hair cutting and shaping options! My family enjoyed selecting their favorite styles, some of which look remarkably modern. Half Shingle, anyone?
- Sample more pictures relating to haircuts (sometimes recorded in captions as “hair cuts“), barbering, and barbershops (which sometimes appears as “barber shops” in picture captions).
- Explore more types of hair treatment, not necessarily involving scissors, in pictures indexed with the term “Hairdressing.”
- Delve into our Popular Graphic Arts collection–about 15,000 historical prints (ca. 1700-1900) created to document geographic locations and popular subjects, sometimes used for advertising and educational purposes.
- Read Oliver Wendell Holmes’ The Guardian Angel, available through the Internet Archive, among other sources. The text associated with the lithograph above appears on page 60 of this 1869 edition.