Stillwater’s History in Hats: From the Functional to the Sublime

While hats are still worn today, they are not as common as they once were. In this picture of a crowd on Stillwater’s Main Street in front of the American Legion Post, the majority of the people are wearing hats—or holding them—all except for the very young. It appears they are dressed in their “Sunday best,” and might be ready to welcome a visiting dignitary.

Story provided by Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar

The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar has an extensive textile collection—including over 250 hats. The Museum’s collection also contains numerous historic photographs including pictures of people wearing assorted kinds of headgear, many of them from the Helt or Cunningham photograph collections. An exhibit planned for April would have showcased quite a few of these hats and related items—from hatpins to hat boxes to wooden hat-making forms. While the actual exhibit will be rescheduled for later in the year, provided here is a sort of virtual exhibit.

While hats are still worn today, they are not as common as they once were. In this picture of a crowd on Stillwater’s Main Street in front of the American Legion Post, the majority of the people are wearing hats—or holding them—all except for the very young. It appears they are dressed in their “Sunday best,” and might be ready to welcome a visiting dignitary.
These early 1920s auto mechanics working at Central Garage in Stillwater wear similar hats—perhaps to keep their heads warm as the garage was not heated? 
Wearing a business suit and a hat that one would think would blow off in the wind while riding a motorcycle seems impractical. Did he deliver telegrams or was the man simply posing for his picture?
1940s Washington High School graduates in their caps and gowns.
Local firefighters drive the fire wagon in a parade in Stillwater on Nov 11, 1940.
Even the older woman pictured in her practical bonnet takes pride in her heavily starched and full-crowned hat.
Buying fancy hats was an investment that women would protect by storing their purchases in hat boxes of all shapes and sizes. Note the two hat boxes from past Stillwater businesses.

The May 2020 issue of SLM included a Hats themed word search with this article. Click this link to view the PDF of the word search, terms and definitions as well as the solutions page.