Figure 1.--Here we have a portrait of William Dougherty. He was presumably from St. Louis, Missouri because his portrait was taken at the Murillo studio there. The portrait is not dated but we would guess that it was taken about 1905. His elegant sailor suit looks like the styles popular at the turn of the 20th century. The style of the portrait mount suggest that the portrait was taken in the 1900s, roughly anout 1905.

Ringlet Curls: Individual American Boys

HBC has a number of images of American boys wearing ringlet curls over time, many of which are dates or that we can reasonably assess the dates. Some of these images are on separate pages for individual boys. In other cases they are just images posted on a page discussing a style or garment. Here we have chronological links to these pages. We note boys weraring ringlet curls as early as the 1850s, but this probably began earlier. Our initial assessment is that The ringlets seem to evolving into more girlish rather than less girlish styles with time. The curl on the top seems to have been very popular for boys 1850-1860. We are interesting in assessing the popularity of ringlet curls and other styles through the number of available images. This is difficylt, however, because the affordibility of images varied over time. As a result, there are far fewer images available during the 1840s and 50s than for the 1860s onwards. This thus has to be taken into account.

The 1840s

The 1850s

Kentucky Boy (1850s)

We note a Louisville boy wearing ringlets in the 1850s. This unidntified Ambrotype was taken by "Webster & Bro. Artists, Louisville". It is undated, but we believe that it was taken in the late 1850s. Here the brother and sister have hair done the same length, but the boy's hair is done in ringlets.

Unidentified Boy (1850s)

Here we have a wonderful ambrotype of an American boy. Unfortunately we do not know his name. This is often the case of anbrotypes and daguerrotypes. They came in cases, but there was no convient place to write a notation. The portrait is also not dates, but we would guess was taken in the mid-1850s. The ambrotype by this time was beginning to replace the more expensive daguerrotype. While we do not know this boy's name or where he was from, there is not doubt in our mind that the child was a boy, primarily because of his clothes. One especially important aspeect of this portrait is the military-style cap he is holding. Often headwear is missing in these old photographs.

The 1860s

California Boy (1860s)

We note in some early photographs taken in the 1850s and 60s that young boys seem to be wearing a kind of transitional outfit that looks like the bodice of a dress, often with a low colarless neckline, and trousers. We do not know if this was also a European style. All of theimages we have are American. Nor do we know when this style began. We first see it in the 1850s, but his may be because 1840s photographs are quite rare. I believe that I have seen some earlier portraits by naive artists, but cannot recall specific portraits at this time. we assume that this fashion was a kind of transition from dresses to trousers worn with more boyish shirts or blouses. The boys pictured look to be about 4-6 years old. Many have their hair done in curls.

The 1870s

The 1880s

American Boy--H. Christe (1880s)

We have no infornation about this boy other than he is an American and his name is H. Christie. From the image he looks to have been born about 1880. While we know little about him, there are several interesting aspects to his outfit which provide insights to 1880s outfits.

Maine boy--Charles R. Hall Sr. (1880s)

Charles R. Hall Sr. was photographed in Lewiston, Maine wearing long ringlets curls and a kiltsuit with some sailor stylistic elements. The portrait is undated, but it looks like the early 1880s to HBC. He looks to be about 5-6 years old.

South Dakota Boy--Ray Campbell (1880s)

This cabinet card portrait is undated, but we estimate was taken in the mid 1880s, but that is only a rough guess. The portrait is from the estate auction of Miss Nina Campbell. Campbell is of course a Scottish name, but we do not know when the family immigrated. South Dakota was not one of the major place to whicg the Scotts settled. She was originally from South Dakota. Campbell is her maiden name and the photos are of her, family, and friends. The child here is identified as Ray Campbell. We are not sure what his relation was to Nina. It is a Railroad Photo Card. This means that Ray probany came from a small town on rail line that did not have a permanent photographic studio. Thus a rail car was laid up on a side line and operated as a studio for a short period. Ray has long hair done in a few riglets. He has a moderate sized white collar and polkadot floppy bow worn with a collar-buttoning jacket.

Massachusetts Boy--V. Bruga (1880?- )

A portrait of Valom? Bruzga was taken in Boston about 1886-90 by the photographer H. H. Sahakian, 384 W. Broadway, So. Boston, Mass. The boy is dressed in an elegant Little Lord Fauntleroy suit and long curled hair, although they are not done in ringlets. The suit may have been black, but he wears a large coloted bowm possibly red. This destinctive style suggests to HBC that the boy's parents may have been recent European imigrants. We are not sure about the name, but believe that it may be Lithuanian. The suit and hair style suggest that the boy came from an affluent family.

The 1890s

California Boy (1890s)

This California boy has elaborate ringlet curls which he wears with a rather plain, but elegany middy blouse and kneepants. We do not know his name, but he looks to be about 5-6 years old. All we know about him is that he lived in California. His ringlets, decorated with a hair bow, were clearly the focus of the portarits. He was photographed from several different angles, probably during the 1890s. HBC suspects that mother may have had this done, because he was about to have his curls cut. Unlike many boys in these old portraits, he seems rather at ease in front of the camera and does not show any particular objection to either his ringlets or even the hair bow.

American Boy--Robert Hode (1890s)

HBC has no information about this American boy, Robert Hode. Some information, however, can be deduced about the boy and his outfit from the photograph.

Pennsylvania Boy--Edgar Aldermann (probablly 1890s)

Edgar Aldermann had his portrait taken in a Philadlphia, Pennsylvania studio. Philadelphia at the time was one of the most important and staid cities in America. The portrait is undated, but we would estimate the 1890s. Concerning the date, here we are not certain, primarily because the full outfit is not shown and the lace collr is rather unusual. We know little about the boy. He was 7 years old. The ringlets and emaculate lace collar suggest he cam from an affluent family. The hair is done in long, tight ringlets and front bangs.

New Jersey Boy--Russell Emerson Cain (1897)

A portrait Russell Emerson Cain show him at the age of 5 in 1897 wearing a fancy Fauntleroy blouse with a kilt skirt kilt. He also had long uncurled hair. He did not come from a wealthy family. He later described his protrait, as "... when I was a little girl growing up ..." We are not sure when he was breeched, but another photograph at age 9 shows him playing baseball with his friends.

The 1900s

Maine Boy--Oliver Ingraham (1900s)

Oliver Ingraham had his portrait taken in the early 1900s. I would say about 1905. He was photographed by Champney of Rockport, Maine. We have no other information about Oliver. The elegant sailor outfit and elborate hair style suggest that Oliver came from an affluent family. He looks to be bout 5 or 6 year old. The resulting portrait was an interesting record of his first haircut. There are a series of three early photos showing Oliver in a white sailor tunic before and after his first grownup haircut that trims away his beautiful long curls. Oliver wears a rather elegant all-white tunic sailor suit. The dickey at his sailor cllar was also all white. Even the scarfe is white. There are no stripes and other detailing. He wears acwide dark-colored belt with his suit. The belt worn over the tunic suit was purely for decoration. The bloomer knickers are above the knee. Rather than white stockings to match his suit, Oliver wears black long stocking. Oliver's hair is done in long shoulder-length ringlet curls. The hair at his forehead swept back and he has a prominant left part. He also wers a very small hair bow. In contrast to his sailor suit, is hair bow is a dark color, however, I am not sure just what color it was.

American Boy--Walter Scott Lloyed (1903)

Walter Scott Lloyed had his portraitvtaken In January 1903. He looks to be about 5 years old. We are not sure where the portrait was taken, but it could be Texas as the portrait was found there. Walter clearly came from an affluent family, perhaps with literary pretentions given his name. The portarit is of interest because he wears one of the alrgest LittLe Lord Fauntleroy collars we have even seen. The collar is not only large, but very voluminous. He wears it with an equally enormous white bow. Some Fauntletoy outfits were not rediculously restrictive like this one. Surely the boy essentially wore this outfit just for the portrait and a few very special occassions. All that lace and rufflles around his neck, must have been very erksome for Walter. He also has a classic small black jacket which is worn open at the front to sjow off his fancy Fauntleroy blouse. The jacket is heavily embroidered. Walter's hair is long with a center part, but not done in ringlets.

Missouri Boy--William Dougherty (about 1905)

Here we have a portrait of William Dougherty. He was presumably from St. Louis, Missouri because his portrait was taken at the Murillo studio there. The portrait is not dated but we would guess that it was taken about 1905. His elegant sailor suit looks like the styles popular at the turn of the 20th century. The style of the portrait mount suggest that the portrait was taken in the 1900s, roughly anout 1905. We are not sure how old William is, but would guess about 5 years old. William wears a fancy suit, strap shoes, and ringlet curls.William has elaborate ringlets that come just to his shoulders. Ringlet curls were still worn by boys in the 1900s, but hey were beginning to decline in popularity. They were also worn with Fauntleroy suits. We see many portraits of boys wearing ringlet curls with with sailor suits, in part because sailor suits were so widely worn.

North Carolina Boy--Thomas Wolfe (1908)

Thomas Wolfe was an enormously popular American novelist during the middle of this 20th Century. He left an indelible mark on American letters. His opulent language and unique literary style have elevated his life to legendary status through his four autobiographical novels. Thomas Wolfe was perhaps the most autobiographical of America's major novelists. His boyhood memories provided some interesing insights into boys clothing and hair styles in the first decade of the 20th Century. He particularly remembers the long ringlet curls he had to wear, even after he had started school.

Missouri Boy--Leo Herbert (about 1910)

We know very little about Leo Herbert, except the one phothograph we have of him. It is undated, but we estimate that it was taken about 1910-15. We know it was taken in Trinton, Mossurri. The photograph suggests that his mother had him study the piano. The most interesting aspect of the portrait is the juktaposition of the rightlet curls and hair bow with the informal overalls. The images rather leads one to speculate about how Leo was dressed when not wearing his overalls. We assume that the overalls were used as play clothes around the home. We wonder if they might be worn instead of a smock.


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Created: March 22, 2003
Last edited: 11:37 PM 10/29/2009