Did Annie Oakley Have Pierced Ears?

Mr. History,

I have an odd question: Did Annie Oakley have pierced ears? I recently saw a documentary about Phobe Moses and in many photos of Annie it appears her ears are pierced. Why did I find this strange? I believe American women didn’t routinely pierce their ears until the 1920s and Annie was in her 20s in the photos. Any chance of finding an answer to this silly question?

Sincerely,

Jim D.

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Dear Jim,

Early photographs of Annie Oakley show no indication of ear piercing, but later ones clearly show either a stud or a more elaborate earring in her ear. I don’t know where you got the idea that pierced ears and earrings were out of fashion in the 1800s, but the attached photos form the Civil War period seem to contradict that notion.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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2 Responses

  1. Alessandra

    Dear Mr. History,

    Like Jim, I was taught that women used clip on earrings, until around the 60’s. Annie Oakley’s pictured bothered me too. Are there any proofs for the commonality of pierced earrings back then?

    Sincerely,

    A.

    Reply
  2. Donna McCreary

    Women wearing ear rings in the 19th century had pierced ears. Screw back earrings became popular in the early 1900’s. Due to the value of most gemstones and gold, ladies had their grandmother’s pierced earrings converted to screw backs, leaving future generations not knowing that their 5x great-grandmother had pierced her ears.
    When researching for my book, FASHIONABLE FIRST LADY: THE VICTORIAN WARDROBE OF MARY LINCOLN, I spoke to several museum directors and jewelry historians who showed me examples of ML’s Civil War era converted earrings. One museum was planning to have the pieces restored to their original condition. When looking at the back of the pieces, it was obvious they had been changed a time or two.

    Reply

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