Hat Lore

Where Did the Mortarboard Come from?

University student mortarboard,
Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Collard
The mortarboard's historical roots can be traced to the mediaeval square biretta worn by both clergy and laity to indicate social status. As the affairs of the Church and academe became separated over the centuries, so did their hats. The biretta was modified and became the headwear of the clergy, and the mortarboard (or flattened square tam) became the hat of the academic.

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