There was a time, not so very long ago, when a woman (or man) wouldn’t think of leaving the house without a hat. Some of us may remember the collection of hatboxes in our mothers’ or grandmothers’ closets—or the thrill of going out to buy a new outfit for Easter, complete with hat. But nowadays even the Easter bonnet has become an endangered species.
Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum dealing with life in a New England village of the 1830s, wants us to know that it didn’t matter whether one lived out in the sticks in a community that didn’t really celebrate Easter. The ladies still cared about what went on their heads, they were far from immune to fashion, and with spring’s arrival, they burst out in new or at least spruced-up bonnets. You can read the story here.
According to the newspaper article that caught my attention, “Mid 19th century women typically owned four types of bonnets: a decorated silk or straw one for spring, a folding cotton calash* for rain or travel, a winter velvet-lined bonnet or quilted hood, and a cotton or linen bonnet for outdoor work.” This took me completely by surprise. I’d no idea they went in for ribbons and feathers. Just goes to show the assumptions one makes about New England country folk.
For a short time—because the items are so fragile—some of the museum’s collection of bonnets will be on display. On Easter weekend, costumed interpreters will hold bonnet-making demonstrations. You can take an online tour of their bonnets here on the website.
Above left is a Straw bonnet with silk pleated lining, circa 1830, from the Old Sturbridge Village collection.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.