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Danbury, Home of Hats in Fashion History

Updated on June 14, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 25+ years successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Source

Hat Popularity and Fashion

Fashion, and especially hats as a part of fashion, makes an entertaining study in most cultures. In fact, fashion and other arts are known in sociology and anthropology as primary building blocks of culture that bind a society together. These building blocks include language, religions, music, and several others.

In Central Ohio, we have a celebration called Hat Day, where our ladies wear large and entertaining hats as they converge on a hotel conference center in the hub of Downtown Columbus in order to meet, compare hats and notes, see a fashion show, and have a good time. They are the subject of TV newscasts every year.

The ladies at hat conventions also feel fancy and sophisticated and their hats are just that. The African American churches in America are especially famous for ladies' hats and I love to look at and admire them.

US National Hat Day is January 15. People all over the country wear their favorite hats.

Danbury hats were made by felting beaver furs: wetting and shaping them.
Danbury hats were made by felting beaver furs: wetting and shaping them. | Source

Hat Double Standards In Congress

In 1837, The US House of Representatives banned the wearing of hats during any session. However, representatives were allowed to smoke cigars, drink whiskey, and shoot pistols on the House floor during congressional sessions -- The film "Lincoln", starring Daniel Day Lewis shows that very clearly.

Hats as a Part of American Culture

The US has had at least one legislator in Washington DC who historically wore such a hat every day in session. We have had a few that have asked that the 1837 No-Hats Rule in the House of Representatives be waived so that they may wear theirs. Notably, I recall "Battling" Bella Abzug and Fredericka Wilson in that context.

The hat has long been a part of such women's American culture, just as much as the attractive head scarf is to my Muslim friends at work, in worship, and even during sports participation - anywhere, really.

Hats were a way of life in Danbury, Connecticut from the Revolutionary War to the 1960s, especially in 1961, when President-Elect John F. Kennedy decided not to wear his Presidential silk top hat during his inauguration.

Hats are popular and have many uses. Top hats in Danbury were once made entirely of beaver pelts, their fur felted together to make wool..
Hats are popular and have many uses. Top hats in Danbury were once made entirely of beaver pelts, their fur felted together to make wool.. | Source

In the year 1800, Danbury factories manufactured more hats than any other city's factories in the United States.

Last Top Hat At a POTUS Inauguration

Source

Hats were a way of life in Danbury, Connecticut from the Revolutionary War to the 1960s.

Hatless JFK Inauguration, 1961

Hatless Jack
Hatless Jack

JFK top his top hat to the inauguration, but did not wear it on the podium. From the on, the top hat and tails have been eliminated from the inauguration ceremonies for President of the United States.

 

Where In the World Is Danbury?

A markerDanbury CT -
Danbury, CT, USA
get directions

Why is Danbury Called the Hat City?

Beginning in August 2010, the privately owned Danbury Museum began to hold an 18th Century Hat Day. This became a holiday in which visitors could learn about the culture and history of Danbury and what made it to be known as Hat City. It turned out to be a fun and well attended event.

A number of re-enactors were employed in this first holiday project, which drew many attendees and good reports. Visit the museum during the Summer in order to learn about future celebrations of Danbury hats and history.

A markerDanbury Museum, 43 Main St, Danbury, CT 06810 -
43 Main St, Danbury, CT 06810, USA
get directions

Danbury Museum Of Hats and More

The Best Danbury Hat Sources

Establishment Name
Location
Phone
Elephant's Trunk Flea Market: Look for vintage hats here.
490 Danbury Road, Danbury CT
1-860-355-1448
Danbury Fair Mall
7 Backus Ave, Danbury CT
1-203-743-3247
Danbury Museum & Historical Society: Check out the gift shop for hatting history books and possibly some hats.
43 Main St, Danbury CT
1-203-743-5200
show route and directions
A markerElephant's Trunk Flea Market -
490 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776, USA
get directions

B markerDanbury Fair Mall -
7 Backus Ave, Danbury, CT 06810, USA
get directions

C markerDanbury Museum & Historical Society -
43 Main St, Danbury, CT 06810, USA
get directions

Hats, Millions of Hats, and No Hats

The first hat maker recorded in Danbury was Mr. Zadoc Benedict.

His business was the Dodd Hat Company, which produced three hats a day, made meticulously by hand, from 1780 in the Revolutionary War Era, forward.

In 1787, Oliver Burr & Co. brought over a genuine English hatter, whom they put to work training a number of hat making apprentices. When they became journeymen hatters, they opened many shops of their own in the 1800s Danbury was the hub of 50 men's hat shops. They made men's beaver-fur top hats, men's derbies, and men's silk high hats.

By 1887, Danbury produced over 5,000,000 men's hats annually and obtained the moniker Hat City. Hats of Danbury were usually stiff fur-containing derbiesmade opf felted beaver pelts.

By 1900, softer hats were wanted on the fashion scene and the stiff Danbury hat became passe after WWII, when men began to eschew hats altogether.

Historic beaver hat styles.
Historic beaver hat styles. | Source

Danbury Manufacturing

Hat making went out of business in the city entirely by 1965. Today's leading manufacturers are:

Edgewell: Personal care products

Hamilton Connections: Placement of workers in skilled trades of manufacturing.

Sikorsky: Aircraft design and construction.

Perkin Elmer

ASML : Micro-electronics

Kimchuk: Electronics

Videos and Movies About Hats

The Mad Hatter Rap

My Favorite Hat Movie - The Andrews Sisters and Disney

© 2011 Patty Inglish

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      crystolite - What sort of hat did your fagther wear? - Do you still have it?

      If you see interesting hat works factories or shops up and running when you do, please let us know, or write a Hub about it. I'd love to read it, susannah42!

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      I live near Danbury and will definantely check this out. Thanks for a good hub

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Thanks for bringing my knowledge on Americans early hat

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      I like the kinds of Hats listed here. It bring my heart back to my fathers hat

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      It is interesting to learn about these early American hats.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Hello, hjello - It was fun for a Hubber to ask about hats in Danbury. Really interesting. Thanks for visiting.

      White Hrose - Great story! - Guns and Soda could be a book title or a singing group. Thanks for visiting and placing yoru story here.

      Fay - The Disney film has always been a favorite; as a child, I swore it was an hour long.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      A very nice hub, Patty. I just love the way you present your articles and validate your information with excellent videos. I can remember when men always wore hats...they were gentlemen too.:)

      up/awesome

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      White Horse 6 years ago

      My grandparents owned a big three story house across the state line from Danbury in Brewster NY. It was a nursing home before they bought it. My Mother grew up there, she was born in 39. When we would visit they always had to go shopping in Danbury. My Grandmother owned some hats. I'm sure she knew of the hat stores. She sold her house around 1980 or so and moved to AZ. and the new buyer renovated the house into apartments and they found some Tommy guns hidden in the walls in the attic. Maybe the gangsters were buying hats and a soda in Danbury and hiding some guns in Brewster !

      Hats off to You.

      Good Day !

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for writing such anusual topic. The hat museum should be an interesting experience.