This week will continue with identifying the date of old pictures by looking at hairstyles – focusing on men’s hair and beards.

If you see an old photo of a baby or toddler in a dress, don’t assume it is a little girl. Look at the hair. If the part is down the middle, the child is a girl, and if the hair is parted on the side, the child is a boy. Very young boys commonly wore dresses through the 1800s and into the first two decades of the 1900s, so the part in the hair is often the only clue to a child’s gender.

Men’s hair in the 1840s was parted on the side, combed back and often ear-length. Men, in general, were still going through a period of disdain for facial hair that had started in the 1700s. During much of that century, beards had been associated with being eccentric, wild and unruly and unhygienic. Although society preferred that men be clean-shaven, some men in the 1840s did sport fringe beards (a narrow beard along the jawline from the sideburns to the chin, or just on the chin), and some younger men wore mustaches that turned downward at the ends. They were experimenting with facial hair which would gradually become popular in the 1850s.

Men still tended to be clean shaven in the early part of the 1850s, but by the end of the decade full beards were in fashion. The decade reflected a time when opinions about beards were changing. Early in the decade, some sported neat sideburns or fringe beards. Men’s hair was longer in the 1850s and covered the ears by 1857. The hair on top might be oiled and combed back, but hair on the sides, longer now, could be brushed forward in wisps or a fringe around the face and forehead. This created a more unruly or windswept look. Some boys and young men wore a high wave at the center of their forehead. In England, conditions during the Crimean War of 1854-6 led to previously clean-shaven British soldiers growing beards on the front lines. When they returned home, their beards became popular. Beards gained approval in the latter part of the decade, but were still looked down upon by some business establishments that forbade employees to grow facial hair; consequently, some British men actually wore false beards and mustaches when at home.

Men’s hair in the 1860s was parted on the side and generally combed back from the face. Beards, sideburns, mutton chops, mustaches, and chin whiskers became popular, and some tended to be wild-looking or untidy. The great popularity of the beard in the United States started in the west–for practical reasons of living on the frontier–and moved east. By the Civil War, beards were common. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to wear a beard. And the depiction of Uncle Sam with a beard (goatee) first appeared during the Civil War.

In the 1870s, men’s hair was shorter and still brushed back from the face. Beards of all kinds continued to be in style. At the beginning of the decade beards were more popular than mustaches, but mustaches worn alone were gradually becoming as popular as beards by the end of the decade.

In the 1880s, some men still wore beards, but the mustache alone continued to increase in popularity over a full beard. In Britain, the full beard became synonymous with being an older, conservative gentleman, so it declined in acceptance with younger men. Older men trimmed their beards and younger men wore impressive mustaches with or without smaller beards. A center part in the hair was introduced.

In the 1890s, men wore short and neatly trimmed hair parted in the middle, just off center, or on the side. As new designs in razors were developed, more men started to return to shaving and the number of clean-shaven men was on the rise. Mustaches were still popular, and the handlebar mustache came into fashion at this time – full, waxed and pointed at the ends. As the 1900s approached, and then on into the 20th century, facial hair on men gradually declined through the decades.

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