The Anacostia Community Museum will be closed from January 8, 2024-March 22, 2024. We will reopen on Saturday, March 23, 2024 with our next exhibition, A Bold and Beautiful Vision: A Century of Black Arts Education in Washington, DC,1900-2000. We hope you will join us! 

Ethel Payne’s Hat

Object Details

c. 1960
silk, synthetic fiber, wire, hot-melt adhesive, glass
5 11/16 × 19 15/16 in. (14.5 × 50.7 cm)
Cite As
Ethel Lois Payne Collection, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Avis R. Johnson.
A profusion of flowers adorns this wide-brimmed hat worn by journalist Ethel L. Payne (1911-1991). A photo from the early 1960s shows Payne, whose love of hats bloomed in early adulthood, wearing this pistachio hat with panache. Accented with a matching bow and tulle, the custom hat bears a bouquet bursting with pink roses, velvety violets, green leaves, and glass grapes, all stitched to the hat by hand. Both wide-brim and floral hats remained popular during much of Payne’s reporting career, from the 1940s to the 1970s. However, fancy hats, sometimes known as “crowns,” continue to hold special significance as an African American cultural tradition. A Chicago native, Payne moved to Washington, DC in 1952 to cover national and international news for the leading African American newspaper, The Chicago Defender. The lifelong civil rights activist reported from thirty countries over the course of her trailblazing career, becoming known as the First Lady of the Black Press.
Accession Number
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