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Hat lady donation turns heads at State Museum

by Charles Morris
hats Margaret M. Merrells of Bridgeport has vastly improved the historic hat collection of the West Virginia State Museum with her donation of summer, winter and designer hats dating from 1840 to 1960. The former Wetzel County school teacher spent decades building her collection and presenting them in shows throughout West Virginia as well as surrounding states, and went national with an appearance on the television show To Tell the Truth. Known as the "hat lady," Mrs. Merrells, 89, would appear in authentic period costume with matching hat, while providing commentary during the shows as her hats were being modeled.

The gracious gift to the Museum includes 134 hats, five dresses and two costume accessories. Selections from the donation, including hats and dresses, will be in the Museum Recent Gifts exhibit.

The State Museum can only do its job of preserving the past with the help of people like Mrs. Merrells. We look forward to exhibiting and preserving this gift and all susequent gifts for the benefit of future generations of West Virginians.

Have a piece of history you would like to donate? Email Charles Morris or call at (304) 558-0220 ext. 704.