Longshoreman’s Cap, about 1960

Longshoremen are the laborers who load and unload cargo ships. Since 1937, longshore work on the West Coast of the United States has been performed by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
This white cotton cap with a visor was worn by its donor, Herb Mills, a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, in San Francisco. Mills wore this hat for special union-related events, such as meetings and parades. The cap was made in Korea for “Dorfman Pacific, of Stockton, Califonia.”
Sometimes called the "West Coast Stetson," this type of white cap was worn by West Coast mariners, particularly longshoremen and sailors. Along with black "Frisco" jeans and a "hickory" (blue and white striped) shirt, the soft white cap was once a signature part of "the usual rig" that men wore in part to express their occupational identity. The white cap also served a safety function as they could be spotted even in the dark holds of ships by men on deck who were lifting and lowering heavy slingloads. By the early 1970s longshoremen were required to wear hardhats for safety when working aboard vessels and on the docks. They still wear the "West Coast Stetson," however, at special union meetings and events.
date made
ca 1960
used date
ca 1970-2001
Associated Place
United States: California, San Francisco
overall: 10 cm x 20.5 cm x 24 cm; 3 15/16 in x 8 1/16 in x 9 7/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Herb Mills
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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