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Umbrella History

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Umbrellas are by no means a modern invention. They are found sculptured on the monuments of Egypt, and on the ruins of Nineveh, and their use in China and India is also very ancient. In Greece they had a part in certain religious ceremonies; and there is no doubt, from the paintings on ancient Greek vases, that umbrellas very much like those in use at the present time were known many years before the Christian era. They were also used among the Romans, but only by women. The umbrella also seems to have been a part of an insignia of royalty, as is still the case in parts of Asia and Africa. An English dictionary, published in 1708, defines an umbrella as "a screen commonly used by women to keep off rain." Jonas Hanway is said to have been the first man to have carried an umbrella through the streets of London in rainy weather, about 1750, and he was booted and jeered at by boys for his fears of a wetting. It is not known, however, when their use began in England, as representations of such articles are found in very ancient manuscripts. Umbrellas were introduced in America in the latter part of the eighteenth century, but their use at first was confined almost exclusively to women, as it was considered very effeminate to carry one.

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