FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: The Chicago Jubilee of 1931 February 23, 2016


What was the 1931 Chicago Jubilee?
City Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Robert M. Lee, had asked the newspaper publisher to be allowed to take a vacation to Europe. The publisher was not quick to agree, but offered instead if Mr. Lee were able to create a large scale event that benefitted the city, he could consider the request.

Three weeks later the Jubilee was held in downtown Chicago. Mr. Lee accomplished a significant amount of planning in a very short time. The event consisted of merchants and industry creating assorted focal events across one week, starting May 11, 1931. Most events were scheduled in the evening to boost business, and garner more after work attendees.

A parade of 150 floats one day, another day’s events had 1,500 singers in a caravan singing thru the streets. Fireworks display in Grant Park, and carnival in Pilsen another day were a big daw. Other events: A boxing exhibition at Soldier Field; cute baby contest; High School ROTC unit review at Stagg Field; street dancing on Ohio between St. Clair and Michigan Ave. A tournament was held at Washington Park; a dedication of a replica of Fort Dearborn. Last but not least, the chance for a few fortunate Chicagoans to be a bit richer, with a contest with prizes worth $5,000.

Stores had advertised special merchandise and in-store guests.

Although hat advertisements were scattered throughout the week, the
Saturday ads for the culmination of the week indicate retailers made a good effort to clear end of spring season stock, and bolster sales of the new mesh style hat.
Saks Fifth Avenue held a sale on the main floor of millinery for 200 hats at $5, usually priced $25. Junior hats on the third floor were just $3.50 with hats of values to $15 were available.

Milgrim Hats on South Michigan Blvd were marked down to $10 from $35. Marshall Field featured sample hats for $10 on their 5th floor.

Mandels was featuring a $5 mesh hat for summer, a new fabric it seems. Carson Pirie Scott and Co called it a “Rag of a Hat” in 10 colors and charged $5.25.


Other stores also had bargains, like



For the woman not looking for a big bargain, but her basic summer hat, a nice Panama straw would be a good investment. Maurice L. Rothschild at State and Jackson had Stetson Pamama straws for $15. Other Panama straws ranged from$7.50-$30.

This is was an ideal time to really advertise for gift giving for Mother’s Day:


There were probably some shoppers who were not going to get into the city, so Marshall Field added additional full page ads for the Evanston and the Oak Park stores:



A Tribune article on May 31, 1931 indicates merchants found the Jubilee a major success and stimulus for trade. It seems the city had gone through a difficult winter, which was no surprise since this was the Depression. The Tribune publisher, and City Editor Mr. Lee had done well for the city.

The event for Mr. Lee culminated by taking the trip to Europe, sailing May 16 on the Il de France.


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