December 3, 2021 at 1:40 AM #8370SUCULTUREAdmin,
Forgotten Women: Remembering
Christina Jenkins, the
African American Inventor of
This series is dedicated to women of history, women of African descent, who have influenced our way of life throughout the 21st century.
The Fifties hair-styling of women and African-American women securing weaves to their hair with grips and pins, which made it appear unnatural, bulky and prone to slipping was transformed by Christina Jenkins’ pioneering hair technique which gave women the freedom to choose from a multitude of hairstyles.
Jenkins’ invention was a game-changer in terms of women’s freedom, choice, beauty and self-expression.
Born Christina Mae Thomas in Louisiana on 25 December 1920, and married to the renowned singer and jazz pianist Herman ‘Duke’ Jenkins, Jenkins formalised her invention by filing for patent on the 4th of May 1951, which involved inter-alia the ‘Permanently attaching commercial hair to live hair’ – patent number 2,621,663.
According to the patent, the technique involved;
“…connecting successive strands of live hair and successive strands of commercial hair to a linearly elongated attachment base of cord-like material at closely spaced points there-along.”
“…interweaving strands of live hair and strands of commercial hair, with cord-like material to permanently join the strands thereto.”
“…interweaving strands of live hair with filamentous material to permanently secure the filamentous material as a base on the head; and attaching a switch or like accessory of commercial hair to the base, by thread.” …etc. See diagram and link below;
Like Madam C.J. Walker who founded Lelia College in 1908 to train African Americans as “hair culturists”, expanding to branches across the United States, Christina Jenkins opened her own cosmetology school to teach others her pioneering technique, travelling across Europe, showcasing her innovative method to other cosmetologists.
Christina Jenkins died at the age of 82 in 2003.
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