Danbury, Home of Hats in Fashion History
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.
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.
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
Hats were a way of life in Danbury, Connecticut from the Revolutionary War to the 1960s.
Hatless JFK Inauguration, 1961
Where In the World Is Danbury?
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.
Danbury Museum Of Hats and More
The Best Danbury Hat Sources
Elephant's Trunk Flea Market: Look for vintage hats here.
490 Danbury Road, Danbury CT
Danbury Fair Mall
7 Backus Ave, Danbury CT
Danbury Museum & Historical Society: Check out the gift shop for hatting history books and possibly some hats.
43 Main St, Danbury CT
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.
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.
ASML : Micro-electronics
Hat History and Culture links
- Danbury Museum Historical Site
The museum preserves the John and Mary Rider House (c. 1785), the Dodd Hat Shop (c. 1790), the Marian Anderson Studio, and the Charles Ives Birthplace. Huntington Hall, contains the museum offices and a research library.
- Mad as a hatter - Perils of glue inhalation in the factory.
The glue and chemicals...
Videos and Movies About Hats
The Mad Hatter Rap
My Favorite Hat Movie - The Andrews Sisters and Disney
© 2011 Patty Inglish MS