French | Hat (Top); ca. 1820 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Rachel Pollock, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Artstor helps me surmount a primary difficulty in teaching historical hat-making to my graduate students in theatrical costume production: diverse visual examples of our topics.

In millinery class, we consider not only styles and materials from which hats are made, but also their history—the provenance and significance of a given style, and depictions of it in art and advertising of the period. We analyze its cultural place of origin, and discuss ways in which its meaning might be explored or subverted in the context of stage performance and costume. I am fortunate to have access to theatrical costume storage and my university’s modest archive of antique clothing artifacts for practical tangible examples, but the bounds of those collections are finite.