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Hats off to Bess Truman!

Bess Truman's hat, 1906. (Truman Library)

Bess in a feathered hat, 1906. (Truman Library)

Here at Prologue: Pieces of History, we have Facial Hair Friday. On the Harry S. Truman Library’s Facebook page, they celebrate Millinery Monday! When I was very little, I loved poking through my mother’s old hatboxes stored in the basement. Alas, the era of wearing hats for every occasion had passed, but she had saved her favorites.

Bess Truman apparently did the same thing. The Truman Library has several of her hats and many more photographs of her in hats at various stages of her life. Scrolling through the Truman Library’s page is a good substitute for exploring my mother’s hatboxes. Not only do you get to see some remarkable chapeaux, but you also get to see the very stylish young Bess Wallace (and others) wearing the hats.

 Bess (left) with her best friend, Mary Paxton, ca. 1901. (Truman Library)

Bess Wallace (left) with her best friend, Mary Paxton, ca. 1901. (Truman Library)

Because Millinery Monday covers the span of Bess Truman’s life, we get to see how hat styles changed from the start of the 20th century through its late decades. We also get to see a part of the library’s collection that is not usually seen by the public. On the National Archives Facebook page, click through our list of “Favorite Pages” to find out more about the Presidential libraries, regional archives, and other units that are all part of the National Archives and Records Administration. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

Besides looking through the old hatboxes in the basement, I also liked trying on my mother’s gloves—another collection of no-longer-worn but still-loved apparel. (As you may have guessed, she was a saver. She must have passed that gene on to me since I ended up at the Archives!)  Hmmm, are there gloves in the Archives too?

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