|Women in Prescott left their mark with many businesses in the downtown area but were especially prominent in running dress stores and millinery shops. From the 1890s to the 1930s, at any given time there were four or five women running their own dress or millinery shops in the downtown area, bounded roughly by Cortez, Will, Gurley and Granite streets.
Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women at Work
|Mrs. W.H. Hunter, also known as Madame Hunter, had her own millinery (or hat)
shop at 134 N. Cortez Street. The only known Black woman entrepreneur in
Prescott at the time, she also provided beauty services -including manicures - and
sold dresses, ribbons, collars and mother-of-pearl buttons. Dora Rosenthal, a
German Jewish immigrant, widowed in her 20s and with two young children, ran her
own dress shop, stocking silks, notions, hats, umbrellas and coats at 226 W.
Gurley Street. Although women shopkeepers had a difficult time obtaining credit
or accumulating capital to open their own shops, these women overcame many
obstacles to run successful stores.
While clothes could be mass-produced, many women liked to personalize their
hats, and milliners like Agnes Todd, Annie Heine, Katie Bishop and Madame Hunter
all ran their own hat shops in the 1910s in Prescott. A proprietress had to
travel to business centers in the East and on the West Coast to buy her
merchandise - usually basic hats plus ribbons, plumes and other trimmings - and to
review the latest styles. Then she returned to her shop where she created
individually designed pieces for her clients. Hats could be updated with new
trimmings when styles changed, and other accessories, like lace collars, could
be purchased from milliners.
Married women had an easier time opening a shop because their husbands could
obtain credit. Mrs. Annie Heine was a partner with her husband in running the
Heine Hotel at 143 N. Cortez Street. This allowed her to open her own millinery shop
next to the hotel. Kitty Bishop was married to George Bishop who ran a
secondhand store downtown, and she opened up the West End Millinery Shop next
door to his shop in the 1910s. Neither Annie nor Kitty had any children which
allowed them to work long hours in their stores.
For more information, see Nancy Burgess, A Photographic Tour of 1916 Prescott,
Madame Hunter - Courtesy of Sharlot Hall Museum