profession of barbering is one of the oldest in the world. Archeological
studies indicate that some crude forms of facial and hair adornment were
practiced among prehistoric people in the glacial age.
are in existence many relics, such as combs, cosmetics and razors, the
latter made of tempered copper and bronze, which came from the tombs of
Egypt. These relics, as well as many written records, reveal that the
nobility and priesthood had already become regular patrons for the
barbers' services 6000 years ago,
those ancient days the barbers' art included shaving, haircutting, beard
trimming, hair coloring and facial makeup.
the time of Moses (1450-1400 B.C.) barber services became available to the
general population, as well as to the nobility. However, people governed
by Mosaic (Moses') law had definite instructions forbidding them from
cutting the hair and trimming the beard in imitation of others who had
adopted the custom.
Bible contains several passages pertaining to the services of the barber.
A few of the references may be found in:
14:1, prohibiting shaving between the eyes of the dead.
19:27, prohibiting trimming of the beard.
21:5, prohibiting shaving the head.
greater part of the 13th chapter of Leviticus gives instructions for the
diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In this chapter, the 29th to 37th
verses gives instructions for the diagnosis and the treatment of scalp and
face diseases by shaving and quarantine.
King David's time (1115-1055 B. C.) barbers played part in wars.
595 B. C. Ezekiel said: 'And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife,
take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon
the golden age of Greece, 500 B. C., well-trimmed beards were
fashionable. Later, in 334 B. C., Alexander the Great decreed that beards
must be shaved, Thus the have became a military. expediency for the
purpose of gaining advantage in the hand-to-hand combat. This enabled
Alexander's warriors to grasp an enemy by the beard, but they themselves
were safeguarded in this customary method of fighting.
was introduced in Rome in 296 B. C. There the art became further advanced,
and Rome became known for it fine baths and barber salons. The barbers
became very popular and prosperous, and their shops were frequented as
centers for daily news and gossip. All free men of Rome were clean-shaven,
while slaves were forced to wear beards. It si from the (Latin) word barba,
meaning beard, that the word "barber" is derived.
the early Christen era barbers became assistants to the clergy, who, on
sacrilegious grounds, were not allowed to do the surgery of those days.
The barbers did blood-letting. Later they pulled teeth, and for centuries
this act comprised the whole art of dentistry. Later on, barbers also
administered herbs and other forms of medications. For more than a
thousand years they were known in history as barber-surgeons.
was the custom of the barber-surgeon to use a white cloth bandage to
stop bleeding on the arm of a person after blood-letting operation. This
blood stained bandage was then hung up to dry. As time went on, the
hanging, of blood stained bandage became recognized as the emblem of the
barber-surgeon's profession. Still later the original emblem was replaced
by a wooden pole of white and read stripes. This symbol is today's barber
pole, and it is universally
used as the sign of a barber shop.
formed their first organization in France in 1096 A.D. Soon after this the
first formal school of surgery was established in Paris by the
the early years of the twelfth century a guild of surgeons was organized
from elements within the ranks of the barber-surgeons. The members of the
guild of surgeons applied themselves to research and study of medicines
and drugs in efforts to find new methods of healing.
the fifteen century, in England, the science of medicine was growing to
such an extent that the guild of surgeons surpassed the barber-surgeons in
knowledge and specialized skill, and they succeeded, by an act of
parliament, in restricting the barber-surgeons to the medical practices of
blood-letting, tooth-pulling and simple cauterizing.
surgeons and barber-surgeons in England were reunited in 1505, and this
union existed for two more centuries. However, the restrictions on
barber-surgeons continued during this period.
time went on, medicine continued to advance through science and research,
and it greatly overshadowed the ancient and dying practice of
blood-letting. the barber-surgeons' medical practice dwindled in
importance and repute in the light of advancing science, and finally in
1745, the alliance between surgeons and the barbers was completely
dissolved. The barbers, however continued to practice blood-letting and
tooth-pulling, and they dispensed some simple herb medicines in the
villages and small communities because of precedence and because often
they were no physicians available.
year 1745 marks the end of a long and glorious period in the history of
the barber profession. Stripped of it's former prestige, barbering
continued to decline economically, technically and even morally. There was
a slow degradation of the art, and by the end of the nineteenth century
barber shops had become untidy, unsanitary and undignified. They became
characterized as centers for cheap gossip and reading rooms for risqué
magazines, rather than for their tonsorial services. Barbering in general
became an unrespected craft, and barbers were grouped in the lowest social
Rebirth of a Profession
the latter part of the 19th century a few barbers who were men of high
ideals initiated efforts to lift the craft of barbering from its degraded
position to it rightful level of professional, personal service. Barbers
began to organize into employer organizational services, known as
"boss barber" and "master barber" groups and into
employee organizations known as "journeyman barber" groups.
December 5, 1887, the Journeyman Barbers International Union was formed at
its first national convention at Buffalo, New York. Affiliated with the
American Federation of Labor, this employees' union is now called The
Journeyman Barbers', Hairdressers', Cosmetologists' and Proprietors'
International Union of America, with its headquarters in Indianapolis,
1893 Mr. A. B. Moler also published the first text-book
barbering. "The Moler Manual of Barbering."
1897 the first barber license law was passed in Minnesota. This state
legislation was designed to prescribe sanitary practices for barbering,
and it stipulated minimum educational and technical requirements for
barbers in that state.
November 19, 1924, the Associated Master Barbers of America was organized
in Chicago, Illinois, through the leadership of Louis E. McIlvain. The
name of the organization was changed to Associated Master Barbers and
Beauticians of America at the National Convention in Cleveland Ohio, in
October, 1941, in recognized as the national organization representative
of barber and beauty shop owners and managers.
October 19, 1927, the National Association of Standardized Barber Schools
was organized at its first convention in Cleveland, Ohio. This
organization immediately sought to develop co-operative efforts with the
National Educational Council of the Associated Master Barbers and
Beautician of America, in a program to standardize the operation of barber
schools in the United states and the training of students in these
October 21, 1929, the National Association of State Boards of Barbers
Examiners was organized at its first convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Its purposes, expressed in resolutions adapted by the convention, were to
standardize qualifications of applicants for barber examinations and to
standardize methods of examining applicants. Also, this organization of
State Barber Boards declared itself to be a clearing house for information
that might be of value to all State Barber Boards.
1925 the Associated Master Barbers and Beautification of America
established the National Education Council, whose purposes were to
standardize school training and to uplift the art of barbering. Some of
the outstanding achievements of this council include; (1) standardization
of the better class of barber schools which must have instructors
qualified under the rules of the National Educational Council; (2)
training of Barber Science teachers; (3) establishment of a curriculum of
Barber Science for the practicing barber, in connection with several
thousand Council diplomas have been issued (Barber Science has also been
added to the curricula of the Standardized Schools, and beginning students
today have the advantages of its advanced instruction); (4) the
formulation of the Model License Bill, in conjunction with the journeymen
Barbers' Hairdressers' Cosmetologists' and Proprietors' International
Union of America (A great deal of legislative work has been done
co-operatively between the Associated Master Barbers And Beautifications
of America and the union, which has resulted in the passage of state
barber license laws. Up to the date of publications of the Standardized
Textbook of Barbering, Fourth Edition, the District of Columbia and all
states of the union except Virginia have a barber license laws. Minimum
price laws are now enforced in a number of states. (5) the creation, in
1930 of a Research department on the General Office of the Associated
Master Barbers and Beauticians of America.
first practical achievement of the Research department was the compilation
and publication, in 1931 of the Standardized Textbook of Barbering, First
edition the first standard, all inclusive volume ever written that covered
and co-coordinated complete instructions in the practice of barbering and
the study of Barber Science. Subsequently, the Association published a
Second Edition and a Third, both of which met with the approval of the
Standardized Textbook of Barbering Fourth Edition. Published by
Associated Master Barbers And Beauticians of America. 1950
information is from my class text book used in 1956.
lengthy, I feel that it gives a good representation of the history of
barbering and you can see where barbering was when I started and the
advances it has made since.