The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Local History #tbt - Fashions in the Early 20th Century

How does one dress for a special occasion in early 20th century Monroe, Ohio?

If you’re a woman, very carefully. Your hat, while lovely, is big and a little cumbersome. Your beautiful dress reaches to your ankles. Beware of puddles...and steps.

If you’re male, your bowler hat declares “I’m a serious man” while your straw hat shouts “I’m a fun-loving guy!” Only your hatter knows for sure.

And if you’re a kid, you wear anything Mother decides -- after you’ve been bathed, of course.

The fashions of America in the early 20th century are on full display in the Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection, a black-and-white retrospective of life in Monroe, Ohio, in the early 1900s, 1910s and 1920s.

Captured by Monroe resident and businessman Marion G. Warner (1861-1922), the collection’s remarkably sharp black-and-white images depict families, individuals of all ages, animals, homes, businesses, buildings, churches and many outdoor scenes.

The collection can be viewed on the MidPointe Library Digital Archives at

It also appears on a 70-inch interactive touchscreen at MidPointe’s Middletown location, 125 S. Broad St. Enlarged photos from the collection are displayed at Middletown.

So travel back in time to the Monroe of Great-Great-Grandmother’s Day:

If you’re heading out in the morning, a bath is a must…

Photograph of an unknown baby in a wash bowl on a chair, 1913 May, photograph 1

Remember that a sharp-dressed man always makes a good impression (men in beards and sunglasses will sing about this decades from now).

Photograph of an unknown boy in a hat, undated, photograph 1

Everyone knows a straw “boater” hat and bow tie are the must-haves of a crooner...

Photograph of a dapper young man in a suit and straw boater hat, undated, photograph 1

...while a “bowler” projects a serious image a’la Inspector Lestrade.

Photograph of an unknown man in a mustache and bowler

Going to a fancy affair always requires a special dress…

Photograph of an unknown young woman in a white dress, undated, photograph 1

but the real fashion statement is your hat -- be it dark and serious...

Photograph of an unknown woman wearing a large, decorative hat, undated, photograph 3

light and whimsical…

Photograph of an unknown woman in a hat, holding a newspaper or magazine, 1910 September 27

or Early Flying Nun (a tip of the hat to TV comedy. What is TV, you ask?)...

Photograph of an unknown young woman in a white dress and large black hat

The Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection was originally curated by and has been made available to the library courtesy of the Monroe Historical Society which recently celebrated its 50th year of operation, said Adam Wanter, MidPointe’s Digital and Special Collections archivist. The city of Monroe celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.

For access to actual photographs, contact the Monroe Historical Society :

Can you help?  If you can identify people or places in the Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection or would like to correct items that have been misidentified please contact the library at