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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sepia Saturday - Hair Days

 Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

Books, studies and statuettes don't feature in my photographic collection, so  I am playing it very safe with this prompt, by focusing on the key feature - long hair - or in my examples longish! 

My great aunt Jennie Danson (1897-1986) was,  by all accounts,  quite a feisty character.  She was the only daughter and last child of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, born on 24th December 1897, after eight surviving brothers - George then aged 3, Frank 5, Albert 7, Tom 9, William 12 (my grandfather), Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20 - a large family in a small terraced house. Her father died when she was eight years old, and two brothers John and George died in the  First World War.

The oldest photograph c. 1909 of Jennie  shows her to be around 12 years old,with longish hair.  Other photographs have featured before on my blog. 

In leaving school, Jennie went to work in Poulton Post Office.  Her daughter Pam recalls a story that during the First World War, a telegram was received at the Post  Office for Mrs Maria Danson.  Fearing the worst, Jenny was allowed to run home with it.  Fortunately it was good news to say that brother Frank was in hospital in Malta but was doing well.    

Was this a group (below)  of Jennie's work colleagues, given they were all dressed in the  same skirts and blouses?   Names on the reverse -  Gerty Roskell, Jennie Danson, Annie Jolly, Margaret Porter, Madge O' Rourke, Edith Jackson, with Gertie and Jennie putting on show their long plaints. 

A complete change of style and I love this photo (left) of Jennie, with the iconic 1920s hairstyle.  She  was determined to lead her own life,  much to the dismay of her five unmarried  brothers who were used to her running the home after the death of their mother (Maria) in 1919.  Jennie married Beadnell (Bill) Stemp in 1929.  

Pigtails to Ponytails characterised my look as a child, complete with kirby grips and ribbons.  I was not allowed to wear it loose. However on village gala days and on special occasions, my hair was wound into rags overnight  to hopefully create ringlets - which soon fell out.   


By my early teens my hair was long.  It was washed and rinsed in rain water or brown vinegar - my mother's idea of beauty treatment and it took ages to dry in front of the fire - no hair dryer to speed the process up.  How on earth did the girl in the prompt photograph manage to dry her  long locks in winter? 

Below  is the only photograph I have of me in my teens.  You cannot see my pony tail down my back, but what struck me now is how similar the pose and fringe is to my Great Aunt Jennie's (above)  some forty years earlier. 

Some years later,  I too went for the chop with this  typical 1960's look. 

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Sepians have viewed this show of long hair.

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. I enjoyed seeing your family members with their hair changes...love the long braids...but oh the Marcel wave was also pretty. I agree, keeping long hair nicely combed is a chore.

  2. I'm glad the telegram was good news and also that your great aunt was determined to live her own life. And did!

  3. Your comment about your Great Aunt Jennie living her own life, & deciding to cut her hair & go for the 1920s short look, reminded me of my Grandma Louise. She had a long mane when the '20s bob came into style & begged her father to let her cut her hair, but he wouldn't allow it. So one night as she sat in front of the fireplace drying her hair, she deliberately got too close & burned it so it had to be cut. She also loved sheer lacy underwear, but wasn't allowed to wear it, so used some of her own earned money to buy some & hid it, then wore it secretly when her mother wasn't around to see it. She was a singularly determined woman all her life!

  4. I'm sure we have some pigtail pictures somewhere dating to the 1940s and 1960s. You post has reminded me to look for them.

  5. Great family photos of you and your great aunt. You look younger after you 'went for the chop' :- )

  6. My hair got fairly long in the 1970s mainly because I hated making appointments. Then I started going to places that don't require appointments.

  7. Like one of the others, those Marcel wavws look beautiful.

    1. I didn't know that style of waves had a name, but my hair looks like that naturally - I really wish it didn't!

  8. Great photographs - in particular that group of work colleagues which will stay long in my memory.


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  10. A fun post. Many hair styles for women stay current to some degree, but I don't think I've seen pigtails for a very long time.

  11. I had no hair for at least the first year of my life and then ringlets sprung out. My mother couldn't get a comb through it. At some point she decided my hair had to be short and so until my sophomore year in high school I dutifully had short hair. And then I put my foot down and said NO MORE! Now I wish I had those curls back.

  12. Good to see Aunt Jennie again!
    I NEVER had long hair - but growing up I always wanted to let it grow. Momma wouldn't let me. As an adult, I can't stand too much growth. Right now my hair is longer than it's been in YEARS -- barely to my chin.

  13. I can see why you love that pefectly waved hairstyle picture, but it must have taken ages to prepare.


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