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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Black Belt Barber: 1941

Black Belt Barber: 1941

April 1941. South Side Chicago. "Barber shop in the Black Belt." View full size. 35mm safety negative by Edwin Rosskam for the Farm Security Administration.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Do Rags

Was there a name for the knit do rags that were open on top? There is no information whatsoever about these on the web, or not that I have found.

[That's a stocking cap. - Dave]

Stocking Cap...

Black men wore (and still do) wear tight elastic caps to set tight, close waves in their hair. "Conking," or perming the hair straight and then keeping it together for a night out, was done with a "do-rag," which is a bit different.

In his autobiography, Malcolm X talks about the pain of those crude perming chemicals burning his scalp, and what can go wrong when you start the process only to find your pipes frozen and no water flowing to wash that stuff out!

And yeah, I wore a stocking cap too until I was about 20... Great photo.

Stocking Cap

Appears that the barber is wearing a stocking cap. These were made from a woman's stocking, usually worn overnight for the purpose of setting a day-long "permanent". I did this up to about age 16 (that would be 1955).


They also missed with "straightner."


Hair "cuting"? Ouch. I hope they didn't pay that sign painter too much!

[Long hair? So not cute. "Hey barber. Cute my 'do." - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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