Two unidentified women with leaf-shaped hair decorations. Photographed by Gamble Studio, once located at 21 Main Street in Champaign. Source: Gamble Photography Studio (Champaign, ILL.) Photographs Envelope.
Recently the Champaign County Historical Archives were captivated by the hairstyles in a donated photograph album. So unique were the topknots and decorative elements that we were inspired to learn more about nineteenth-century hair. Luckily, we have the perfect resource for this topic: Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 by Maureen A. Taylor.
Decorative ornaments for the hair were worn throughout the country, as seen here on this woman from Massachusetts. Source: Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900, 2009, p. 113.
Decorative elements worn at the crown of the head were common in the late 1890s.
Unidentified woman with leaf-shaped hair decoration. Photographed by F.W. Stafford in Champaign. Source: F.W. Stafford Photography Studio (Champaign, ILL.) Photographs Envelope.
The updos of the late nineteenth century, which elongated women’s faces, often contrasted with the puffy dress sleeves that were in fashion at the time.
Source: Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900, 2009, p. 110.
Topknots were particularly fashionable in the 1890s. The woman above was wearing a hairpiece, also quite popular during this time, styled into a topknot. The hair does not match her natural color as it was difficult to obtain hairpieces in grey. Hair dyes were widely available in the 19th century, however.
Unidentified woman photographed by Gamble & Cook in Champaign. Source: Gamble Photography Studio (Champaign, ILL.) Photographs Envelope.
Devices such as curling irons were common in the nineteenth century and were used by both men and women. Women often curled their bangs and pulled the rest of their hair back.
“Loutie,” photographed by D.N. Boyce in Tuscola. Source: Boyce Photography Studio (Tuscola, ILL.) Photographs Envelope.
In addition to decorative elements, forms, lace, and gauze were used to achieve various hairstyles. Wire clips or pins were used in the hairstyle above to hold the braid in place. Although this woman’s bangs appear natural, some women also used combs with attached hair in place of their natural bangs.
Visit the archives to view more photographs from local photography studios in and around Champaign County and discover for yourself the novelty of historic hairstyles!