A Quick History of Fascinators

Tomorrow’s royal wedding is the talk of the town, and that means attention will most certainly be paid to the fashion choices of attendees. Dresses, designers, and best (or worst?) of all, fascinators.

Ah, fascinators. Those whimsical and often bizarre little hats that perch on carefully styled hairdos. They were not always this way, of course; only in recent decades have fascinators been revamped into the small and precariously pinned headpieces that we know today.

Old-style fascinator, 1896Old-style fascinator, 1896 · Wed, Dec 2, 1896 – Page 5 · Washington Times (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com

The name is older than the style; fascinators of the past were actually somewhat more sensible, scarf-like things like the one in the drawing above. They were frequently marketed and sold as a seasonal item for warmth right next to scarves and mittens, and since they were knitted and draped around the head and neck it’s not too hard to see why.

Cool Nights Call for ThemCool Nights Call for Them · Wed, Dec 14, 1898 – 10 · The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.com

There are several clippings in the archives from younger women who lament being forced to wear “old-fashioned” and “ugly” fascinators by their mothers, as by the early 1900s fascinators were no longer the style and were usually associated with old women. This clipping below, from 1966, comments on the lull in fascinator use just before it was readopted into a more modern style that could be appreciated by all ages.

Fascinators came back in style, 1960sFascinators came back in style, 1960s · Fri, Oct 21, 1966 – 2 · Mount Union Times (Mount Union, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

In the 60s and 70s, the definition of a “fascinator” was pretty loose. It sometimes referred to modernized versions of the original scarf style of headwear, but slowly it also began to apply to the smaller, clip-in hats that had existed for decades.

Fascinator, 1970Fascinator, 1970 · Sun, Apr 26, 1970 – Page 114 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Fascinators (before they were called fascinators)Fascinators (before they were called fascinators) · Mon, Mar 8, 1943 – Page 9 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Newspapers.com

By the 90’s, the term “fascinator” had become firmly attached to a specific kind of hat—small, jaunty, and often bedecked in beads or feathers or any manner of frills and flounces. And, as with many trends in fashion, the fascinator is not always a favorite.

The fascinator reigns supremeThe fascinator reigns supreme · Mon, Jan 25, 1960 – Page 6 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com

Not everyone's a fanNot everyone’s a fan · Wed, Oct 19, 1988 – Page 100 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com

Keep an eye out for some fancy fascinators if you’re tuning in to the royal wedding—they’re sure to make an appearance! And now you can feel free to regale your friends with the truth about fascinators: they were once just floppy, unfashionable scarves until someone rebranded them. The magic of marketing!

Find more on fascinators and fashion history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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This Week in History – Brown Vs. Board of Education Ruling

This week in 1954, segregation in public schools is declared to be unconstitutional and “inherently unequal” in the final ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. The unanimous decision was a major win for the civil rights movement and a big stepping stone toward the eventual abolishment of racially segregated public spaces.

“Segregation is ‘inherently unequal'” · Mon, May 17, 1954 – Page 2 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Conclusion of decisionConclusion of decision · Tue, May 18, 1954 – 8 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Brown vs. Board of EducationBrown vs. Board of Education · Sun, May 17, 1964 – Page 8 · Sunday Gazette-Mail (Charleston, West Virginia) · Newspapers.com

Find more on this important moment in history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Robert Johnson, Master of the Blues

You may have heard his name recently if you’re a Timeless fan. NBC’s time-traveling show went back to the 1930s in a recent episode and introduced its characters to one of history’s greatest and most influential blues masters, Robert Johnson.

Most may recognize him from the myth that surrounds his talent, which goes something like this:

Robert Johnson, deal with the devilRobert Johnson, deal with the devil · Wed, May 10, 1989 – Page 11 · Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) · Newspapers.com

The legend seemed to suit Robert Johnson just fine; one could say that he did sell his soul, metaphorically, by casting off a typical settled life in pursuit of the itinerant life of a blues musician. He moved from city to city, making friends with the locals, schmoozing the ladies, and captivating audiences with his skill. All his recordings were made in the span of two years: 1936 and 1937.

Devil in his musicDevil in his music · Sat, Mar 15, 1986 – 16 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Johnson's recordingsJohnson’s recordings · Sun, Jan 19, 1997 – 43 · Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Johnson’s unexpected death in 1938 at the age of 27 (from unknown causes, though many speculate he was poisoned by a jealous husband) cut his career abruptly short, and he never lived to see the full scope of his fame or the incredible influence his music had on the rock and blues genres.

Robert Johnson's musicRobert Johnson’s music · Sat, Mar 15, 1986 – 17 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com
There’s more to find on Robert Johnson (particularly after 1961, when his recordings were first reissued). Try a search on Newspapers.com for this or another topic of interest.

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This Week in History – V-E Day

This week marks the anniversary of the surrender of German troops throughout Europe and the official end of World War II. The majority of surrender took place on the 8th of May, leading to bold and victorious headlines like this:

Victory in Europe Day, 1945Victory in Europe Day, 1945 · Tue, May 8, 1945 – 1 · Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

In Soviet Russia some conflict continued, but surrender there was confirmed by the following day, May 9th. Celebrations popped up across the world, with people taking to the streets to cheer the end of the terrible, 6-year war.

Russia says surrender complete, May 9 1945Russia says surrender complete, May 9 1945 · Wed, May 9, 1945 – 1 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Find more clippings and articles of this historic moment with a search on Newspapers.com.

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The Missing Mona Lisa

Once upon a time, in the year 1911, the sudden disappearance of a famous work of art thrust it into the international spotlight.

Famous Mona Lisa StolenFamous Mona Lisa Stolen · Wed, Aug 23, 1911 – Page 1 · The Greenville News (Greenville, South Carolina) · Newspapers.com

The painting was stolen sometime on the morning of August 21, but it appears that somehow no one noticed until the next day. This will seem strange to those who have had to push through crowds of people and their cameras to get a peek at the Mona Lisa in recent years, but makes a bit more sense in the context of 1911. While the Mona Lisa was by no means unknown at the time, it was this very thievery and the resulting flood of news headlines that made her one of the most famous paintings in the world.

For two years the whereabouts of the painting remained a mystery.

Missing in mystery for 2 yearsMissing in mystery for 2 years · Sun, Aug 10, 1913 – Page 4 · Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

At long last, the thief was caught. His name was Vincenzo Perugia, and his connection to the theft was discovered in late 1913 after he tried to sell the painting.

Mona Lisa Thief Talks, 1913Mona Lisa Thief Talks, 1913 · Sun, Dec 14, 1913 – Page 33 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Perugia explained how he’d envisioned and planned the theft while working for the Louvre. On the morning of the 21st he’d simply walked into the museum, taken the Mona Lisa from where she hung in a room that was empty at the time, and walked out with the painting hidden under his worker’s smock.

And as for his motives?

Perugia's motivesPerugia’s motives · Sun, Dec 14, 1913 – Page 33 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Perugia’s understanding of history was a bit misguided (the Mona Lisa had never been stolen by Napoleon at all, but was taken to France by Da Vinci himself in the 16th century), but nonetheless he considered himself a national hero and fully expected to be showered in the praise of his fellow wronged Italians.

After a short exhibition throughout Italy the famously enigmatic lady was returned to the Louvre and can still be seen there today.

This story was extremely well circulated throughout the papers of the time, so there’s a lot more to find! Try a search on Newspapers.com for Perugia and the Mona Lisa theft to find more clippings about this piece of history.

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This Week in History – First American Man in Space

On May 5, 1961, nearly a month after Yuri Gagarin’s orbit around the earth won the space race for the Soviet space program, American Alan Shepard makes his 15-minute suborbital journey on Freedom 7. The successful flight thrilled the U.S. and restored national confidence in the space program.

Shepard's Trip A-OkayShepard’s Trip A-Okay · Sat, May 6, 1961 – Page 1 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Words on America's first man in spaceWords on America’s first man in space · Sat, May 6, 1961 – Page 1 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Shepard, suited upShepard, suited up · Sat, May 6, 1961 – 4 · Elmira Advertiser (Elmira, New York) · Newspapers.com

Find more on Shepard’s historic flight and his other adventures in space with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Death by Meteorite

Here’s an interesting bit of news from 1879—possibly the first reported case of a death by meteorite in the U.S. Whether it is a true account or a bit of newspaper sensationalism is hard to say, but it’s definitely an intriguing (if somewhat gruesome) story!

Man killed by meteoriteMan killed by meteorite · Thu, Feb 6, 1879 – Page 3 · The Weekly Herald (Cleveland, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

Find more unusual history with a search or browse through the Newspapers.com collection.

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The First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe

The name of this famous lady was Jeanne Baret. When her employer, a naturalist named Philibert Commerson, was invited on an expedition with explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Baret used the ol’ “woman-disguised-as-a-man” trick to join the frequently unwell Commerson on the voyage as his assistant and caretaker.

Jeanne Baret, first woman to circle the globeJeanne Baret, first woman to circle the globe · Mon, Dec 22, 1980 – 42 · Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

The clipping above is just one example of many unconfirmed explanations for her discovery. The only common thread of truth in the account seems to be that her identity was revealed sometime around the voyage’s arrival in Tahiti in 1768.

Jeanne BaretJeanne Baret · Mon, Apr 30, 2012 – Page E8 · Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) · Newspapers.com

Baret’s part on the expedition came to an end when she and Commerson remained on the island of Mauritius during one of the ships long stops. It was here that Commerson died. In 1774 Jeanne married the soldier mentioned in the first clipping and found her way back to France, thus completing her circumnavigation.

Find more on Baret, Commerson, Bougainville and their expedition with a search on Newspapers.com.

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