M977.24.3 | Academic gown, mortarboard and hood

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Academic gown, mortarboard and hood
Avant 1864, 19th century
Gift from Mrs. John Wightman
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Academic gown (1)
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Keys to History

Academic gowns originated in the universities of the early Renaissance and have changed little in form through the centuries. Traditionally worn at all times by both undergraduates and professors in universities, they are now worn only on ceremonial occasions. The gowns are generally black, but those worn by graduates holding higher degrees may be red.

The academic hood is a variation of hoods worn in the early Renaissance. Their colour and their trim, which may be of silk or fur, identify the wearer as a graduate of a certain field of study. At many universities, including McGill, the red hood signifies that the wearer has a medical degree.

The mortarboard cap originated at the University of Paris in the early 16th century, where it was known as the "bonnet carré."

  • What

    This academic gown is made of black wool with silk trim. The hood of scarlet wool is lined with silk.

  • Where

    The Faculty of Medicine is the oldest at McGill University.

  • When

    This academic outfit, worn in 1864 by a graduate of McGill University's School of Medicine, would differ very little from one worn by a contemporary graduate in medicine.

  • Who

    This academic dress was worn by Dr. John Temple (b. 1843) on the occasion of his graduation in medicine from McGill University in 1864.