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USNA Barber Shop History

Oct 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Navy Barber History Blog Image

The iconic USNA Barber Shop, in the basement of Bancroft Hall, was the subject of some recent renovations. Now looking more sleek and lustrous, the Barber Shop carries both a new, modern image and a rich history.

Related: Barber Shop Reopening & Ribbon Cutting Video

The Barber Shop is widely believed to have existed in Bancroft Hall since 1905. As early as the 1926-1927 academic year, standing orders have been found regarding regulation haircuts and the need for midshipmen at the Naval Academy to stay within those regulations. To this day, midshipmen need to keep their hair styled in a regulation hairstyle and cut within a regulation length, in order to demonstrate the values of organization and discipline that are essential within the United States Navy, while inspiring confidence in the Naval forces to those observing.Plebes Haircut Class of 1972_1968

Of course, the regulations have changed over the years. For example, until the early 1950s, plebes were instructed to keep their hair "neatly trimmed and not more than two and one-half inches long on top." In 1951, that changed, and the regulation limit was changed to no longer than one and one-half inches. Today, their hair is cut to a crew cut of two inches at the beginning of Plebe Summer, and they are expected to maintain that.

The regulations aren't just for newcomers. For male midshipmen, the modern day regulations require hair be "no longer than four inches and (the hair) may not touch the ears, collar, extend below eyebrows when headgear is removed, show under front edge of headgear, or interfere with properly wearing military headgear. The bulk of the hair shall not exceed approximately two inches."

For female midshipmen, the hair regulations are similar. Female plebes are given a haircut to ensure hair does not fall below their chin, and hair may only extend one and one-half inches below their jumper collar. In addition, they are not allowed to use rubber bands, bobby pins, or other materials within their hair, with the exception of physical activity. Furthermore, female plebes are only allowed a maximum of two inches in length to the bulk of their hair, much like their First Women Plebes Haircuts 2 Class of 1980_1976male counterparts. As midshipmen, female students at the naval academy may have buns, ponytails, and other, similar hairstyles, within strict regulations. Due to the regulations of the Naval Academy, and the importance of maintaining this organization in our fighting forces, it's a good thing the Barber Shop is always at the ready.

The Barber Shop is now located in Wing One of Bancroft Hall's basement, but has changed its location quite a bit during its time at the Yard. Throughout the years, there have been multiple barber shops, at multiple locations, within Bancroft Hall. These multiple locations have included several other wings of the midshipmen dormitory. Over time, the current location became the one where the different barber shops consolidated.

FIncoming Plebes Class of 1981_1977or those wondering why the Barber Shop had multiple locations, and why it moved around, the details are fascinating. Originally, the distinction between classes (e.g., plebes versus second class midshipmen) was strictly observed. Because of this, the different barber shops were organized to provide services to the different classes, with plebes forbidden to use the barber shops used by upperclassmen. There were barber shops, until the 1960s, in the basements of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth wings of Bancroft Hall. However, after renovations and additions were made to Bancroft Hall in 1961, a new barber shop was set up in the eighth wing, and a special barber shop in the seventh wing, intended for use by female midshipmen, was opened in 1976. Over time, the different barbershops were brought together and now, in 2020, the one remaining Barber Shop is a fixture of Bancroft Hall and the Naval Academy as a whole.

Services provided to the Brigade of Midshipmen, such as the Barber Shop, are operated by the Naval Academy Business Services Division (NABSD). 100% of Navyonline’s proceeds are returned to the Brigade of Midshipmen through the Midshipmen Welfare Fund (MWF) which is used to fund a wide variety of USNA extracurricular activities. Shop to support the midshipmen today.

Topics: Insider

Bill the Goat
Written by Bill the Goat

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