On this date in 1922, Dr. O. O. Churchill of North Dakota Agricultural College confirmed a report by Dr. Austin O’Malley of Philadelphia that Fargo would be one of the few cities in the United States to boast of a population of blondes. According to these two anthropologists, blondes were destined to disappear within the next forty years and brunettes would dominate in all but a few northern cities. Professor Churchill stated that it was merely a matter of eugenics. With the exception of a few areas such as North Dakota which were heavily populated by blondes, mostly of Scandinavian decent, it was noted that in most areas of the country, blondes were marrying brunettes. Of four children born to a couple with one blonde parent and one brunette parent, one child would be blonde, one brunette and two would have both the blonde and brunette pigmentation eventually deepening to a brunette shade which would result in one blonde and three brunettes. Brunette was the dominant gene.
What effect would this have? Well, according to this study, all great women in art, literature and history from Helen of Troy to Pollyanna had been blonde and to continue that tradition, America would have but Fargo and a few other northern cities to draw upon for future women leaders in these fields and in the emerging field of politics. The rest of the county would see a tremendous sale of peroxide.
The "dead line" as they described it was at the 45th Parallel running from Bangor, Maine to St. Paul and on to Portland, Oregon. South of that line blondes would eventually disappear. With the large population of blondes in Fargo, they would continue to flourish.
Of course, subsequent studies have shown that recessive genes will continue to provide a population of blondes throughout the United States. In 2002 there was a similar study to O’Malley and Churchill which was purported to have come from the World Health Organization that raised a storm of criticism but was later proved a hoax.
It is interesting to note that in 1922 the O’Malley and Churchill studies stated that all great women were blondes, a far cry from the blonde jokes that we hear today. North Dakotans are proud of the large population of our blonde-haired citizens and it’s comforting to know that they will be around for a long time to come.
Written by Jim Davis
The Fargo Forum April 22, 1922