hat collection is currently on display in the Elmer Baker Memorial Showcase at Kilgore Memorial Library

Sheri Beins’ hat collection is currently on display in the Elmer Baker Memorial Showcase at Kilgore Memorial Library in York. Her hats are from the late 1800s all the way through the 1970s.
Photo: News-Times/Rachael Ruybalid

Sheri Beins has been collecting hats for 30 years and her hats are on display at Kilgore Memorial Library in York, Nebraska.

Beins’ hats range from Jackie Kennedy style, pillbox hats with rhinestones and netting hats from the late 1800s made of velvet and feathers.

“Hats back in the day were made with a hand-formed, wire mold and were adorned with real feathers, straw or fur. They were also hand-sewn.

Looking at more recently made hats, you can tell the difference in the fabrics, said Beins. “Now they’re artificial, synthetic and man made with more adhesives and less hand sewing,” she said.

Beins collection really grew when her family owned the former Beins Rexall corner drugstore in downtown York. People started finding out that she collected hats and they would just bring them in and give them to her.

Her favorite part is hearing the stories that come with the hats. There’s a pink hat that a lady in town wore to her daughter’s wedding, a flowered one that was worn to a special tea and even a hat that was made in York at the former The Fair Hat Shop.

Her favorite story is that of a red hat that was worn by a woman who worked in Lincoln at one time. The hat has a little red bird on top of it and one day, when this lady was going to work, she got in the elevator with a man.

“The guy stood up and looked at the top of her head and said, ‘oh I was just checking to see if that bird laid an egg.’”

And while Beins would love to wear hats on a regular basis, she tends to just leave them at home most of the time.

“I just like hats and I used to wear them more than I do now,” she said. “I’d probably wear some of these hats if other people would.”