The Hatpin Menace

American Women Armed and Fashionable, 1887–1920

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About the Book

Between 1887 and 1920, the humble hatpin went from an unremarkable item in every woman’s wardrobe, to a fashion necessity, to a dangerous weapon (it was said). Big hair and big hats of the era meant big hatpins, and their weaponized use sparked controversy. There were “good” uses of hatpins, such as fending off an attacker in the street. There were also “bad” uses, such as when a woman being arrested tried to stab a police officer.
But seriously: All those protruding pins seemed to threaten people everywhere in the public sphere. It did not sit well with the patriarchy, who responded with hysterical crusades and often ludicrous legislation aimed at curbing the hatpin and disarming American women.

About the Author(s)

Cultural historian Kerry Segrave is the author of dozens of books on such diverse topics as drive-in theaters, lie detectors, jukeboxes, smoking, shoplifting and ticket-scalping. He lives in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Kerry Segrave
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6215-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2217-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction 2

1. Big Hats 5

2. Hatpin Fashion 36

3. The Hatpin as an Offensive Weapon 46

4. The Hatpin as a Defensive Weapon 73

5. Group Use of the Hatpin 95

6. Accidental Use of the Hatpin 102

7. The Hatpin Abroad 109

8. Agitation, Hysteria, Crusades and Legislation Against the Hatpin 116

Chapter Notes 181

Bibliography 192

Index 205