This bonnet belonged to Lucretia Mott and most likely
dates between 1850 and 1880. It is typical of Quaker bonnets
of the period. It is very stiff and made out of buckram
covered with gray-green silk; it is all handsewn. The
brim is lined with white silk. Instead of the five deep
pleats that many people associate with Quaker bonnets,
this one is gathered where the crown meets the brim in
such a way that it gives the illusion of being pleated.
The distinctive stiff bonnets, usually in gray or tan,
would have identified its wearer as a Quaker.
In general, Quaker bonnets followed the fashions in
headwear of the dayafter a manner. While fashionable
bonnets, which were worn throughout most of the nineteenth-century,
changed rapidly in the angle and depth of the brim,
as well as in the trimmings, Quaker bonnets were plainer
and had minor changes, mainly in the depth of the brim.
Therefore, they are extremely difficult to date accurately.
Additionally, older women often continued to wear the
style they had worn as young women.
Bonnets such as these would have been worn over a sheer
day cap (the type that is represented in the portrait
of Lucretia Mott on this website). At home a woman would
only wear the cap, but when in public she would also
wear the bonnet. On rainy days, special rain-resistant
covers would be worn over the bonnet.