June 29, 2022

‘The Life and Hats of Milliner Mae Reeves: A Conversation with Her Daughter, Donna Limerick’ to be Presented by Montgomery History on Tuesday, July 5

One of the many extraordinary exhibits in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is Mae’s Millinery Shop. Lifted nearly complete from its original home in Philadelphia, it is now recognized as a historical treasure. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, “The Life and Hats of Milliner Mae Reeves” will be featured in a free online presentation from Montgomery History.

Mae was a pioneering milliner who was famous for her custom-made hats. She was active in her field from 1940 until 1997. She passed away in 2016 at age 104.

At age 28, she opened "Mae's Millinery Shop," located at 1630 South Street in Philadelphia. By so doing she became one of the first African American women to own her own business in downtown Philadelphia.

Her clients included celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Marian Anderson and socialites from illustrious families, including the duPonts and the Annenbergs. Women from many professions and from churches also came to purchase hats from Ms. Reeves. She made trips to New York City and Paris to procure materials for her custom-made hats.

Mae’s daughter, Donna Limerick, a longtime resident of Montgomery County, will join Montgomery History's collections manager, Elizabeth Lay, in the presentation to discuss Mae’s entrepreneurial spirit. They also will share memories of her waiting on customers in the shop and reveal cherished family photographs.

To register free and join the presentation, go to » WATCH (montgomeryhistory.org).