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19 June 2008

Red Hat Ladies at CGS

Yesterday the California Genealogical Society Library was the third and last stop of a full day field trip for members of a local chapter of the Red Hat Society. Barbara Hill, a CGS volunteer librarian, planned the day of shopping, lunch and genealogy research for her fellow red hat enthusiasts.

The Red Hat Society had its roots in a tradition started in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, California. Inspired by the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, Cooper began giving red hats to her friends as birthday gifts with a copy of the poem which begins "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me."

Barbara sent this description of the group:

The Red Hat Society has been around for ten years now, and is a "disorganization" for women over 50 who just want to have fun. There are no rules, and only a few traditions, so chapters don't have to have elections or by-laws or dues or charitable functions unless that is what they want to do.

Women under 50 can be "pink hatters" and wear lavender clothing with a pink hat. When they turn 50, they "reduate" and then wear purple clothing with a red hat. (During your birthday month you can wear reverse colors, red clothing with a purple hat.

We try to do things for fun as a group that we wouldn't think of on our own. Some of our outings have included going to tea, touring museums, painting pottery blanks, a Jelly Belly factory tour (fascinating!), a Scharffenberger's chocolate factory tour, going to plays, and many other activities, often along with other chapters. I once arranged for my chapter to have a lesson on how to play pool, with a professional woman billiard player as the instructor. The ladies who went have never stopped talking about it!
Standing: Susan Kaasa and Chapter Queen, Judy Fox;
Seated, left to right: CGS Librarian, Barbara Hill,
Jane Kaasa and Mary Louise Prentice.
[Photograph courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.]

Yesterday's excursion seemed to yield many smiles despite the absence of a pool shark. Lavinia Schwarz and Jane Lindsey stepped in to help Barbara guide the purple-clad neophytes with their first attempts at genealogy research. All four left with copies in hand of census, WWI draft registrations and other finds.

The California Genealogical Society welcomes interested groups to come and tour the library and spend some time exploring our genealogy resources. Contact CGS at (510) 663-1358 to schedule a field trip.