In this "Featured Artifact" post, we're examining two cloth items in our collection - a pair of hat bands from the Hudson River Day Line.
Much like Naval ships, steamboat crews wore formal uniforms and there was a hierarchy of crew within each department. Of the two hatbands, one is a more general one that simply reads "Day Line," indicating the crew member worked for the Hudson River Day Line steamboat company.
The other hatband, reading, "2nd Mate," indicates the rank of the bearer. Second Mates are usually third in command of a vessel (behind the Captain or Master and First Mate) and usually act as watchkeeper, ensuring crew rotate through four hour watches and managing vessel safety and security. Sometimes they also serve as navigator.
Both of these hatbands date to the 1930s, a time when the Hudson River Day Line was at its height.
In this photograph of Hudson River Day Line senior staff of the steamboat Peter Stuyvesant, from 1947, you can see the uniforms and the clear ranks on their hats. The captain (Frank Briggs) wears a white hat to differentiate him from other officers. His hat band insignia is larger and clearly reads "Captain."
Although difficult to read in this image, the other officers are also wearing hatbands clearly denoting their ranks. To the left of the captain is the Chief Engineer, and to the left of him, the First (1st) Mate. To the far right, seated, is the Purser, the man responsible for ticketing and purchases aboard the ship. Can you tell what the other hat bands say?
Note also that the senior officers wear double-breasted jackets, and the junior officers single-breasted jackets.
Unfortunately, only Captain Frank Briggs is identified in this image. If you recognize any of these men, please let us know!
By the 1960s, all crew hats were changed to white, but the uniforms were changed and, depending on the department, became less formal.
Did you or anyone you know work aboard a Day Line vessel? What was their role? Tell us in the comments!
Thanks to Dan Donovan for assistance with today's blog post!
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