Milliners of Los Angeles: Harriett L. Wadley

On this April morning, my research rabbit hole pulled me down into Los Angeles’ millinery world. The US National Archives hosted a monthly #ArchivesHashtagParty on Twitter and chose the theme #ArchivesTipoftheHat. In researching some of the backstories to several images in local archives, I came across Harriett L. Wadley. Millinery work was a popular and respected vocation for many women in Los Angeles in the 1900s so this hashtag party gave me an opportunity to dive deeper in this topic.

I fall down way too many rabbit holes when researching Los Angeles history. To better document the findings of my LA history detours, I’m going to start posting brief summaries of various research in an effort to synthesize, find and build upon the stories at a later date.

Born in Chicago, Harriett L. Wadley moved to Los Angeles with her husband painter Rudolph Wadley. She opened a popular hat shop in Los Angeles with Ruth Ebbs. Wadley was active in a number of clubs and charities including the Doll League Charity Club, which raised money for needy children in the community.

According to both the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel, Wadley’s hat shop was in the same building at the Memo Night Club at 4262-4264 S. Central Avenue (some articles refer to it as Memo Building).

Newspaper article (1949) announcing Harriet Wadley's Hat Shop

Both the California Eagle and Los Angeles mention her charitable and millinery efforts through the 1940s but I’d really love to find better photos of her, her hat shop and the Memo building on Central Avenue.

From the California Eagle:

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