Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” as Want to Read:
Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  190 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Countless black women would rather attend church naked than hatless. For these women, a church hat, flamboyant as it may be, is no mere fashion accessory;  it's a cherished African American custom, one observed with boundless passion by black women of various religious denominations. A woman's hat speaks long before its wearer utters a word.  It's what Deirdre Guion calls ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 31st 2000 by Doubleday (first published October 17th 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Crowns, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Crowns

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
I found this in my local public library with a bookplate as a donated book. The cover is quite eye catching but that is only a teaser. The book first shows a photo of the lady and her hat--an important hat to be sure. Then the next two pages are the story the lady chose to tell about her hat. These hat stories always include bits of wisdom and lovely memories of family and friends. This was a joy to read and to view these ladies and those all important hats. I believe any woman reading this book ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"We just know inside that we're queens. And these are the crowns we wear."

This book was a real pleasure, both the photos and the brief recollections of the women in them. These women can WEAR them hats!

It's a broad group of photo subjects, ranging from 22 to at least 78 in age, professions ranging from teachers, to Urban League presidents, to secretaries, to state representatives. Each has a story about why they wear hats and why they chose that one for the photo shoot. Some are hilarious, othe
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was looking at books with low circulation, and this one jumped out at me. My aunt met her best friend through mutual hat admiration, and, while I'm not a hat wearer, I love them on other people. This book fell open at the perfect quote: "Before we left for the party, my mother said we looked adorable. I said, 'Adorable ain't what we're shooting for.'"

Each black and white portrait is accompanied with an individual story about hats and life experience. This book is fascinating and beautiful and
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. The subject has fascinated me for a long time and this unique book provides a personal insight from African American women on the importance of hats -- an instance where fashion has much much inner meaning in addition to the outside beauty. I think also that hats throughout time, in many cultures, have been an element of women's lives that marked their own choice, personal style, and a true statement when women had few statements to call theirs.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, black-america
"We just know inside we're queens. And these are the crowns we wear." Felecia McMillan - Journalist

Michael Cunningham's stunning black & white photographs and Craig Marberry's gift and ability to find the voices & stories of the women in the photos combine to give a beautiful view of black American women.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Crowns! Portraits of Black Women and their Church Hats; Young and Mature Queens show off their headress in this book. This book showcases beautiful pictures along with short biographies of the hat wearers and also goes briefly into the history behind the significance of hats in the black community.
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book, though not necessarily a book in the traditional sense, gives a great insight into the lives of African American women. The many women shown in the photographs are all different and each with their own lesson to teach us. This is a good coffee table book just to flip through.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
A brilliant visualization of a religious social phenomena. Humorous and serious while being very respectful and insightful.

I may kick this one up to a 5-star rating after I've let it sit and soak in for a few months.
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
I borrowed this book for my wife from an African-American Episcopal priest that I work with. I watched her reading it and with occasional laughter but always a smile and decided I need to take a look too! Great book with some great hats, "not the kind you'll find on a skinny old white woman."
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: photographers and black history fans
These photos document an era that is passing, that of the elaborate hats that African-American women wear to church. I found the hats to be amazing. The ladies' expressions tell you a lot about themselves as well.
Mary Havens
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
LOVED IT! Funny, insightful, beautiful and makes me want to go buy a hat. :)
Barb Kissner
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book full of lovely photographs and a brief story told by each woman. Unique blend of history, hats, and generations of women who have a strong link to their heritage through their hats.
 Barb Bailey
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
Love hats, loved this book!
Kerry Kenney
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-studies
Wonderful topic. Wonderful photos.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dramaturgy
Read this in preparation of working on the musical Crowns, as this is the source musical. Lovely photos and fun/fascinating stories. Easy read.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Essays with accompanying photographs of Black women and their church hats. Set in the U.S. 1950s mostly.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: photography
A little glum to read about all these beautiful hats and to see them only in black and white! :(
Linda L. Fenoff
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I spent hours going over each of the short essays that accompanied the wonderful photos of women in their special and unique hats. I could read it a third time.
Evelyn Bryant
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book documenting a beautiful people. A most enjoyable book. The expressions on the faces of the women and the hats they wear....... perfect!
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The photos are gorgeous, and their stories are moving! This is as powerful as I Dream A World.
Kathy McFarland
rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2016
Erika M.
rated it it was amazing
Nov 16, 2017
R. G. Nairam
rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2017
Sansan Gilbreath
rated it it was amazing
Apr 17, 2009
Enigma Monkey
rated it really liked it
May 01, 2013
Daisy Smith
rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Feb 07, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Oct 11, 2015
Michael McNally
rated it liked it
Aug 18, 2015
rated it it was ok
Jan 15, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Vintage Black Glamour
  • Wide Angle: National Geographic Greatest Places
  • In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits
  • Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America
  • American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama
  • A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union
  • The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients
  • What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America
  • Little People in the City: The Street Art of Slinkachu
  • Diane Arbus: Untitled
  • Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America
  • Snowflakes in Photographs
  • Let's Talk About Pep
  • Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain
  • National Geographic: The Photographs
  • Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D: From Snapshots to Great Shots
  • Mapping It Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies
  • The Devil's Playground
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Michael Cunningham...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Hidden Figures
    $4.09 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
    $10.49 $1.99