By Sarah Aisenbrey, Archivist

Did you know that The Dawes Arboretum houses over 92,000 archival items? They are located between the Daweswood House Museum, History Center, and Archive Building, and we care for and interpret these items. Here’s an inside look at some of these objects – our co-founder Bertie Dawes’s hats.

Bertie Dawes was an avid collector of hats; we have almost 30 in our archive. Bertie lived from 1872 to 1958, and her hats show not just what she favored in terms of fashion, but what was stylish during her life.

In the late 1890s, Bertie wore hats with real bird feathers. Hats with feathers (or even entire birds) were very common; however, the National Audubon Society advocated for an end to this practice as it was pushing many bird species to extinction. This is a photo of Bertie and her friends in the late 19th century – Bertie is on the left.

Between the end of the 19th century and the end of World War I in 1918, Bertie favored hats with very wide brims, as you can see by this photograph taken in 1912. Her style became more sophisticated, as did her position in life. Her husband and our other co-founder, Beman Dawes, started his work in the oil industry with his founding of The Ohio Cities Gas in 1914 (this became The Pure Oil Company in 1920) which was very lucrative for the Dawes family.

From the 1920s until her death in 1958, Bertie collected hats from local Columbus department stores, specialty stores in Florida, and even department stores in Chicago and New York City. This photo from the early 1950s shows Bertie in a hat made by Martha Weathered, a famous milliner (hat-maker) from Chicago. Here you will also see a photo of the hat today, as it is in our archives.

If you would like to learn more about our Archives, or to volunteer with the History Department, call 800.44.DAWES.