J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

William Lang: hairdresser of Salem

While looking up something else in the early American newspaper database, I kept running across the advertisement of an Essex County hairdresser named William Lang. I thought his words offered a useful snapshot of how he and his customers thought about their wigs and hair. This notice ran in the Essex Gazette throughout 1773:

William Lang
Wig-Maker and Hair-Dresser,

Hereby informs the Public that he has hired a Person from EUROPE, by whose Assistance he is now enabled, in the several Branches of his Business, to serve his good Customers, and all others, in the most genteel and polite Tastes that are at present in fashion in England and America.

-----In Particular, WIGS made in any Mode whatever, such as may grace and become the most important Heads, whether those of Judges, Divines [i.e., clergymen], Lawyers or Physicians; together with all those of an inferior Kind, so as exactly to suit their respective Occupations and Inclinations.

-----HAIR DRESSING, for Ladies and Gentlemen, performed in the most elegant and newest Taste.-----Ladies, in a particular Manner, shall be attended to, in the nice, easy, genteel and polite Construction of ROLLS, such as may tend to raise their Heads to any Pitch they desire,----also French Curls, made in the neatest Manner.

He gives Cash for Hair.
Here’s more about the different styles of wigs for different professions (as opposed to those of us of the “inferior kind”). And here’s a posting about ladies’ head-raising rolls.

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