Museum Minute: The Stetson Hat In Literature

Mar 8, 2021

John B. Stetson came west as a young man. He was the son of a successful hatter. In the West, he recognized the need for a felt hat with a wide brim to keep off rain and sun. His famous "Boss of the Plains" hat became widely popular and he was forever associated with the figure of the western cowboy.

Mary Robinson, the director of the McCracken Research Library, said Stetson soon become associated with good advertising as a symbol of the cowboy. This is very clearly seen by a book published in 1925 by John B. Stetson company, "The Stetson Hat In Literature."

"It's very unique in that this is a little book about the popular novels of the day that relied on the Stetson hat somehow to tell their story," said Robinson. "So it's excerpts from fiction. And sometimes quotations from the popular Western writers of the 20s, many of whom we don't remember, these are people that have faded from our memory."

The authors include Carolyn Lockhart, Henry Herbert Knibbs and Rex Beach.

"It's a little promotional book that shows just how important the symbol of the Stetson was in the literature of the day, which helped to glamorize the American West in the 1920s," said Robinson.