History of the hat shared at Tea Party


“History Loves Company” is the 2022 mantra for the Wayne County Historical Society which kicked off their special events calendar on April 23 with Sue McClain, a speaker with Humanities Nebraska.

McClain presented “To Top it Off: History of the Hat,” to a large and appreciative crowd at the Elkhorn Room, Kanter Student Center on Wayne State College’s campus.

Guests learned about the history of hats from the 1850s through the 1960s. The event included a display of different hats and designs that were popular in each decade.

McClain, also known as “Yesterday’s Lady,” has been collecting vintage clothing for 25 years and has a wide variety of artifacts, ranging from the 1840s through the 1970s. As a Humanities Nebraska speaker, she has traveled the Midwest entertaining groups with a wide selection of fashion programs and shows.

“I had such a wonderful afternoon presenting the history of hats to a fabulous group of ladies,” said McClain, “Everything was Top Hat with the food, room and the company! I enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones!”

The event also included a tea party catered by Chartwells. The buffet contained a variety of pinwheels, sweets and an assortment of fresh fruit.  

And of course, no tea party would be complete without a variety of tea bag choices, coffee and flavored water to quench the guests thirst. 

Rachel Kunz, current president of the Wayne County Historical Society, spearheaded the first special event of the season. She commented, “It was such a wonderful day bringing the history of hats to life. I was so thankful for the terrific turnout, seeing everyone’s great hats, and for Sue McClain for making the journey from Beatrice!” 

The response cards left by the guests of the event echoed the positive sentiments of McLain and Kunz:

“How fun to spend the afternoon learning about how the hat showed a lady’s femininity.”

“Great presenter! Sue McClain is a Nebraska treasure!”

“I learned a lot about history, things that I had no idea about until today! Very enjoyable!”

“I would love to hear “Yesterday’s Lady” give more presentations!”

“Please keep these programs going, they’re very important to preserve our history.”

Towns represented at the event included Wayne, Norfolk,  and Bradshaw in Nebraska, Yankton, South Dakota, as well as nearby communities.  

The Wayne County Historical Society would like to acknowledge Humanities Nebraska, Sue McClain, Joel Johnson, Wayne State College Coordinator of Conferencing, and Jason Thiel, Catering Manager for Chartwells.

Anyone interested in additional Historical Society extra special events is asked to mark their calendars for these upcoming dates:

Sunday, May 29: Opening weekend for the museum with music and refreshments served up on the front porch. 

Saturday, June 11: Summer Garden Tour. 

Friday, Nov. 18 and Saturday, Nov. 19: “Home for the Holidays,” a tour of homes.

For more information the WCHS invites interested persons to “like” and to follow them on their Facebook page, “Wayne County NE Historical Society Museum.” 


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