Sepia Saturday June 7th – 100 years of Ladies in Hats

In earlier times ladies wore a hat all the time – a simple cap indoors, and something more elaborate to go out. Customs changed and ladies only put on a hat to go out, then even later only wore a hat for special occasions – going to church or a wedding or a funeral. Living in a country town in Victoria in the fifties I would always have worn a hat to go to church, but once I moved to Melbourne no hat was considered necessary, and I still remember   the hunt around the cupboards to find me a hat to wear to church, in the late fifties when I visited the home of my husband to be for the first time, as in that small town it was still the custom. I think the customs must have persevered much longer in England as  ladies were most definitely expected to wear hats to our son’s wedding in 1993. Today of course, so conscious of the damage done by the sun, we plonk hats on or heads to go outdoors for an entirely different reason. There is a wide variety of styles in the hats worn by the ladies in the family albums. I have included some of them here in roughly chronological order as many of them have no date.

Jane (Teague) Purcell (1794-1867)


Martha (Sellek) Radford (1800-1867)



Eliza (Radford) Latham (1828- 1892)

Eliza (Radford) Latham

Caroline (Penny) Nicholls  (1838-1894) added this hat to her outfit from the selection

Jane (Penny) Radford

Moving now perhaps to the early 20th Century

Selina (Barnes) Boyd) (1851-1925)

Getting much more extravagant in style.I’m aware that a lot of these hats were not their own, but available in the studio for the photographic session


Selina’s daughter Isabel Dowler (1883-1970) also chose a large style for this photo. To me it looks like she has a wedding cake perched on the top of her head!


   In New Zealand this is what Donald Boyd’s wife chose to wear. The family in Australia did not know her name, she may have been Fanny Jane Cowley.


More large hats – Lottie Craine (1881-1961) and her niece Mrs Adeline (McIntyre) Teese  (1890-1961) perhaps at a funeral? although one gent is wearing a flower in his lapel so perhaps it was a wedding.


Mary Ann (Sandford) Blackley (1859-1939)

Mary Ann (Sandford) Blackley

Moving in to the first half of the 20th Century the hats develop smaller brims

I think this photo of Greeba and Florence Craine would have been taken in the 1920’s Greeba & Florence

but shortly after her own wedding in the 1930’s Florence had gone for something larger to attend a wedding

Florence Penny1

Others were wearing their hats tilted forward as shown by Susie (Penny) Wright and her sister Carrie (Penny) Hobbs

Susan Wright and Carrie Hobbs

or perched on the back of the head and carry some floral decoration. Looks as though they were going to a very important family wedding.

Grace Cowan, Marjorie Crow, Jess Trudinger and Laura Lloyd daughters of Isabella McLean and Jack Cowan


or a jaunty boater as worn by Lucy May (Penny) McKenzie (1890-1969)

Lucy May (Penny) McKenzie

  or on the slant Vera Fricke going to the local agricultural show in 1940

Vera Fricke 1940

 Mother and daughter 1948 (and the dress was made of Viyella)

Vera and Marcia 1948

Moving to the 1960‘s the hats are getting smaller

These styles seen at a wedding in 1960

Florence Penny 2 Edna CraineGrandma Fricke

Jessie TrudingerMargaret RickeyVera 1960

And as I said 100 years now to round out the theme our daughter chose this jaunty number in red on her Wedding Day in 1992, leaving the Reception.

Susan 1992

This was a free choice of subject week and I’m very keen  to see what others have written and I hope you are too. You can check them out in the link below.

Sepia Sat 7 June Open Theme


17 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday June 7th – 100 years of Ladies in Hats

  1. Most of my photos of women in hats date from the 1920s. Your collection of older hats is outstanding and I enjoyed looking at the various styles – especially that “wedding cake” hat!

  2. A smorgasbord of hats! I’m not too much a fan of small hats, I love big ones – especially big fancy ones. I do like your daughter’s choice of the red hat matching her red dress as she leaves her wedding reception. And what a lovely picture.

  3. That was a fun tour through the history of hats. I’m amazed and impressed that you have so many family photos of women wearing hats! Lucky you! I especially like the daughter’s hat in mother/daughter 1948. It almost looks like a bonnet. It really is fabulous. And, of course, your daughter is beautiful.

    • Thanks – I was also surprised when I started the hunt, and I didn’t include all I have. My husband’s mother was a hoarder, and when I first embarked on the family history trail we travelled with a reflex camera and a tripod, and whereever we made contact with the different branches of the family we made copies of what they have. I am grateful for this site as it is just one avenue where they can be shared and not lost.

  4. A fabulous collection of millinery! It’s odd how those bonnets women favoured in the early days seem to make the wearers look very similar to one another. I have a couple of 3 times great grandmothers on my tree who look just the same as the ladies in your photographs.

  5. Pingback: Weddings in Australia-1895-1993 | Stories behind the Photographs in the little brown case

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