I found this letter inside a 1920’s children’s pattern and my curiosity was piqued, never having heard of a hair pillow. I went on a researching quest, and found that they are just as you might think — pillows full of hair.
A 1917 newspaper touts the better choice of a hair pillow versus a feather pillow. Reasons: feathers get hot and sticky, the smell, and who knows how many generations of your family have slept using that very same feather pillow. Hair pillows were considered cooler, causing less sweat on the back of the head and neck (remember, there was no air conditioning during this time). The article states that they are quite comfortable, once you get used to them, and they are softer as well.
A 1962 article to a home advice column questioned what to do with a hair pillow that became matted after it was run through a washing machine. The answer? Take the hair out, wash and detangle, and stuff it back in.
Seems like we’ve used just about everything to lay our heads on, but this is one I’d never heard of. The cost in 1917 for a 12X14″ pillow was about $1.25 according to the letter. The newspaper mentions that they were similar or only slightly higher in cost than feathers. So if you have some hair lying around that you can’t donate to Locks of Love, consider making a hair pillow and letting me know how it works for you. I’m curious, but not that curious.