Hats to Colour, 1920

hats-1920-white-bowI like the picture above. I like the project.  But reading the article accompanying it is rather jaw-dropping.

An Easter Bonnet An Idea for Grade IV:

Frances Clausen (1920)

“IN looking over the many things appropriate to Easter, nothing is perhaps more suited to the feminine part of our community than the Easter bonnet and certainly will be hailed with delight by the average primary child. The hats may be drawn freehand or traced according to the ability of the class or the grade constructing them. They may be colored with crayon or paint, and here the teacher should limit the pupil to one or two colors and black, so as to correlate good ideas on dress as well as mere pleasure in making the toy. Never allow a child to color anything, and especially an article of clothing, unless the finished problem would be really wearable. For often the foreign element of our schools is allowed full sway in gorgeous reds and yellows, the teacher resignedly thinking that it is impossible to alter their ideas. No one has more beautiful schemes of coloring than the Italian, but they must be toned down to meet our American climate and ideas of correct dress.

Thus we skillfully conceal a lesson in our apparent pleasure.

The hat should be drawn on white drawing paper and outlined in black.

Use light gray construction paper for the base, which consists of two ovals or egg shapes, the wire support being slipped between them and both pasted together.

The wire is about eight inches long or five inches when finished.

Use thin hat wire. A spool of Dennison’s flower wire was used for the originals, which contains ten yards of light green wire sufficient for a room of forty-five pupils.

The hat in the illustration is colored a light tan with * garnet bow.

The hat with a quill should be colored black, with a black and blue ribbon and a blue quill.

The poke hat is yellow, with black velvet bow.

The hat with the plume is green, with dark blue plume and black ribbon trimming.”

What.  Ever.  Print the picture, use it as a basic template and colour and decorate the hats however you like. If you like the above suggestions, fine. If you prefer to base your colour and design schemes on Toulouse-Lautrec, do that.


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  1. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    W.O.W. What’s the right term for that–ethnic snobbery? Good grief.

  2. Headmistress
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I know. I was horrified and shocked. I still am, but then I thought about a different experience I had. I was with a Japanese exchange student in Japan, and we were shopping for clothes. She was horrified by my choices, both for her and for myself. After some friendly discussion and much resorting to the dictionary, the gist of it was this- in Japan at that time, the colours I was suggesting for her (purples, blues, grays, blacks) were considered appropriate for older women. Girls her age wore what I thought was a hideous kind of mustard yellow and reds and whites. But I liked red, so I was choosing a lot of red things for myself, which to her eyes, and everybody else’s, was kind of like a middle aged woman wearing Hello Kitty stuff, which I was suggesting she should dress herself like a grandma. Meanwhile, at that time in the U.S. That ‘when I am old I shall wear purple’ poem was all the rage because only young people wore purple,and goth was all the rage, so kids wore black all the time and among adults, only Johnny Cash did that.

    I am pondering this experience now and thinking that maybe if the America at that time was that rigid, and I guess it was, and colours communicate certain things in certain cultures, helping the Italian immigrant children understand that would be helpful. Like suggesting a tattoo sleeve and well brushed hair when going to a job interview.

    But then I read the wording of that assignment and kind of shudder all over again.

  3. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted March 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it’s just so cocksure and condescending.
    It would be lovely to be so well-traveled and experienced in some other cultures as you are. I do the best I can without being able to travel much.

    • Headmistress
      Posted March 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      You’re right, it’s the condescension that rankles.

      I think it might have been Chesterton who said that travel may broaden the mind, but first you have to have a mind. Having the mind, you are still better off than those who travel without it, and there are many.

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