Bonnets for a Winter's Day

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

In the nineteenth century bonnets were worn by American women for warmth and protection from the sun and dust. They were made of soft materials , tied under the chin and often with a sun apron or bavolet at the back. In the early and to the mid-century hats were reserved for grander occasions, and the use of silk for quilted winter bonnets especially in the 1840-1860’s indicated they were welcome headgear to accompany a woman’s beset outfit. The bonnet became smaller during the last half of the century and finally by 1880’s gave way to hats. Quilted bonnets were a must-have on an icy winter day--indoors or out.

At the Ridgewood Historical Society we have just four examples of quilted bonnets. The simplest is a child’s cotton bonnet clearly for everyday wear.

Probably the most interesting bonnet is this black silk which belonged to Lucy Ann Barstow of Duxbury, MA. From the inside you can see black threads against the tan lining which were clearly used to tighten the fit.

Another black quilted bonnet comes from the Zabriskie family. The blue satin ribbon was added at some point to replace deteriorated ties and bavolet. Both or these bonnets date from the Civil War period.

The fourth in our collection might be called a hood rather than a bonnet (because it has no ties). The reddish-pink satin lining is thickly quilted with green flowered print exterior. Probably 1850’s.

Dacey Latham 2020

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