A podcast from Beacon, NY

Beacon’s Hat-Making History, With Denise VanBuren

Image credit: Michael Isabell

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Denise VanBuren is a five-term president of the Beacon Historical Society and current president general of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She has written two books on Beacon’s history and is working on a third, a collection of writings by beloved local historian Bob Murphy, who passed away recently.

In this episode, she talks about Bob’s legacy, the dozens of “hat shops” that operated here and the incline railway.

“Through the decades thousands of people found work as hat makers in the Hudson Valley. It was a very popular and very important part of the average American’s wardrobe,” she says. “Women would come in from farmlands to make additional income. It was not uncommon to have boys work in factories, particularly if they had lost a father.”

Indeed, many factories employed children, required a six-day work week and imposed working conditions that are “reprehensible to us now.” She adds, “These things were widespread and not unique to Beacon.”

Also in this episode: BHS is gearing up for its annual “Beacons of History” fundraiser. This year’s virtual event will take place Thursday, Nov 5.

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