L-O-N-G Victorian Hair

L-O-N-G Victorian Hair
"Edwardian Rapunzel" from Flicker and Pinterest.

“Edwardian Rapunzel” from Flicker and Pinterest.

Women of the Victorian American Era seldom trimmed their hair. Yes, the curls about the face became stylish in the later part of the century and ladies curled these cut fringes with heated irons. But when it came to the vast majority of the hair upon their heads, it was considered their “crowning glory” and never to be cut. It’s not surprising that by the time adolescence gave way to adulthood, hair had become too long to wear down, resulting in various up-do’s.

Examples of

 

Victorian hair up-do's of six women as pictured from the back. Image from rapunzelsdelight.com and Pinterest.

Victorian (and Edwardian) hair up-do’s of six women as pictured from the back. Image from rapunzelsdelight.com and Pinterest.

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The waves visible in most of the unbound, long hair in the various images is resultant of wearing in a braid while sleeping. Having had uncommonly long hair myself, I’m the first to recognize this braid-to-sleep strategy as a necessity to keep from twisting up in it, catching it on the bed frame, or a bed partner (little sister, husband, etc.) pinning it beneath themselves in sleep.

Victorian long hair braided and resting over shoulder. Cornelia Edith Yoï Crosse (1877-1944) - British Writer & Model. Photograph, circa 1900.

Victorian long hair braided and resting over shoulder. Cornelia Edith Yoï Crosse (1877-1944) – British Writer & Model. Photograph, circa 1900.

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victorian hair. backs of 8 unidentified women. circa 1880. Tintype. International Center of Photogrophy

Backs of 8 unidentified women, circa 1880. Tintype, from International Center of Photography.

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COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS

Women valued their hair so very much that medicines were peddled expressly catering to the vanity.

Medicine Ad. Skookum Root Hair Grower. The Ogden Standard Examiner. Ogden UT. 20 Sept 1891

Advertisement for Skookum Root Hair Grower. The Ogden Standard Examiner of Ogden, Utah on 20 September, 1891.

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Despite the well-known dangers of opium addiction by 1870, I’m surprised a product would proudly tout that cocaine cures dandruff (1881):

Dandruff removed by cocaine. The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta GA. 8 Nov 1881

The Atlanta Constitution, of Atlanta, Georgia on 8 November, 1881.

But in all fairness, it appears that wide recognition of the dangers of casual use of cocaine didn’t become well known until the mid to late 1880’s.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch of Saint Louis, Missouri, on 29 May, 1904.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch of Saint Louis, Missouri, on 29 May, 1904.

This Danderine advertisement contains testimonials of the three females illustrated, plus one additional lady:

MISS MARMARA HENRY, 5036 Forrestville Ave., CHICAGO.

Miss Henry says: “Before I began using Danderine my hair was falling out in great handful, and I am pleased to say that Danderine not only stopped it at once, but has made my hair grow more than twice as long as it ever was.”

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Miss Eloise Atherton, Little Rock, Ark., says: “It is surely remarkable the way Danderine improves the hair. It has made my hair grow ten inches longer in five months and it is getting thicker and longer all the time. I believe in giving praise where it is due, and you can use my name as reference if you so desire.”

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FLORENCE RUSSELL, Age 6 years (pictured center, above) 215 Mohawk Street, Chicago. (who else is surprised that if Florence Russell actually existed, that the newspaper would publish her name and address?–times have certainly changed!)

Since it has become generally known that Danderine causes hair to grow just as abundantly on the heads of children as it does on those of matured persons, many truly marvelous cases are coming to our notice. Little Miss Russell, whose photograph appears above, is certainly one of the remarkable ones. Her beautiful hair is over thirty inches long and her mother says that “DANDERINE GREW EVERY BIT OF IT.”

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MISS SELMA HASSELL, 2728 North 42d Court, CHICAGO.

Miss Hassell says: “My hair would not reach below my waist when I began using your Danderine. It was also faded and splitting at the ends. Not it is over 2 1/2 feet longer than it ever was and it has regained its original rich blond color. I used the tonic about four months all together.”

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Advertisements were often simply a testimonial, such as this one appearing 9 years earlier in The Guthrie Daily Leader:

Testimonial advertisement for Danderine appeared in The Guthrie Daily Leader of Guthrie, Oklahoma, on 29 September, 1895.

Testimonial advertisement for Danderine appeared in The Guthrie Daily Leader of Guthrie, Oklahoma, on 29 September, 1895.

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THE SEVEN SUTHERLAND SISTERS

One of the Seven Sutherland Sisters, image from Pinterest.

One of the Seven Sutherland Sisters, image from Pinterest.

The seven Sutherland Sisters were traveling vocalists of great reputation, known for their unbound, flowing silken tresses. The sisters often appeared not only as performing musicians but as parts of circuses, on display for their magnificent hair (which other women must have coveted and perhaps men found ridiculously appealing). One Sutherland Sister, Victoria, was touted to sport hair a full seven feet long. The next closest sister’s hair measured six feet. According to The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on 22 December, 1881, the sisters were “the big attraction under the canvass in the seven wonders at the exposition”.

Seven Wonders: Sutherland Sisters, in The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on 22 December, 1881.

Seven Wonders: Sutherland Sisters, in The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on 22 December, 1881.

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The Daily Review of Wilmington, North Carolina, on 27 March, 1882.

The Daily Review of Wilmington, North Carolina, on 27 March, 1882.

The Daily Review of Wilmington, North Carolina, on 27 March, 1882.

The Daily Review of Wilmington, North Carolina, on 27 March, 1882.

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Sutherland Sisters, Part 1. Harrisburg Telegraph of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 26 July, 1881.

Sutherland Sisters, Part 1. Harrisburg Telegraph of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 26 July, 1881.

Sutherland Sisters, Part 2. Harrisburg Telegraph of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 26 July, 1881.

Sutherland Sisters, Part 2. Harrisburg Telegraph of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 26 July, 1881.

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The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on 29 October, 1881.

The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on 29 October, 1881.

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MORE IMAGES OF VICTORIAN LONG HAIR

Three Victorian Women with long hair, from retronaut.com and Pinterest.

Three Victorian Women with long hair, from retronaut.com and Pinterest.

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Victorian woman's hair drags way past her ankles. From typesofYoga and Pinterest.

Victorian woman’s hair drags way past her ankles. From typesofYoga and Pinterest.

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Victorian woman with very dark long hair. Black-pool Tumbler and Pinterest.

Victorian woman with very dark long hair. Black-pool Tumbler and Pinterest.

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Image of Victorian woman sitting, displaying long hair. Longhairloom.com and Pinterest.

Image of Victorian woman sitting, displaying long hair. Longhairloom.com and Pinterest.

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Victorian Long Hair. From Flicker and Pinterest.

Victorian Long Hair. From Flicker and Pinterest.

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Izabella Potocka Lwow, circa 1880.

Izabella Potocka Lwow, circa 1880.

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Victorian poses to display her long hair while wearing nightgown. Rapunzelsdelight.com and Pinterest.

Victorian poses to display her long hair while wearing nightgown. Rapunzelsdelight.com and Pinterest.

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Image from Flicker and Pinterest

Image from Flicker and Pinterest

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What is it about the long hair or hairstyles of the Victorian Era that interests you? Any thoughts to add?

False Beauty Spots Victorian Ladies’ Hairdressers Victorian Curling Irons Victorian Hair Augmentation How Did Victorian Stockings Stay Up? Old West Barber Shop Victorian Shaving, Part 1 Victorian Era Men’s Hairstyles Old West Bath Tubs

Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC
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8 Comments

  1. No wonder they only washed it once a week! Can you imagine how heavy it must be when wet?
    Great article!

    Reply
    • Hi Ann!
      You’re right…long hair is not only difficult to wash but takes forever to dry (and untangle). I can tell by your knowledgeable comment that you’re experienced =).
      Thanks for stopping by!
      It’s good to hear from you–
      Kristin

      Reply
  2. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in one of her books (These Happy Golden Years, I think) that she plaited her hair (braided) and could sit on the braids.

    Reply
    • Hi TylerRose–
      I do remember something like that, having loved every Laura Ingalls Wilder book (and the TV shows) in my youth. Long hair was the standard then and it’s so uncommon now.
      Thanks for dropping by and reminding me of a favorite long-haired woman.
      Best,
      Kristin

      Reply
  3. Very interesting article, Kristen. I can’t imagine wearing my hair that long. In high school when it was just past my shoulders was long enough. The time involved in braiding it and brushing it out each morning must have been part of the reason women rose before sunup. Thanks for the informative article.

    Reply
    • Hi Marianne–
      You’re so right; long hair is so much work. I can imagine the social expectations affected many women’s choices and they went along with it. =) Many thanks for stopping by and sharing your personal experiences and thoughts. It’s terrific hearing from you.
      Warm regards,
      Kristin

      Reply
  4. What a wonderful post, Kristin. As a little girl, I had braids I could sit on (I was a big Laura Ingalls fan, too!) I had long hair for a very long time and can relate to the work involved with the upkeep. It’s so fun to see those old photos! Thank you for sharing them.

    Reply
    • Dear Shanna,
      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your own experiences with and love for long hair.
      Best,
      Kristin

      Reply

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