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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.


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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]

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