I was in Florida this week on a mini-vacation to Captiva, an island off the Gulf Coast near Naples and Fort Myers. While there, we visited the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island–kayaked through the mangroves with a guide full of information, hiked a couple of short trails, and rode the scenic, 4-mile road through the preserve. At their information center, they have an excellent, small exhibit and that is where I learned something I can use in my Roaring Twenties books.
By the early 1900s, demand for plumes for ladies’ hats had almost wiped out rookeries along Florida’s coasts (not to mention other areas of the country). Birds were slaughtered by the millions for their feathers which were used to decorate ladies’ hats all over the world. One example: “In 1902, the London market sold 1,608 packets of plumes which required killing 190,000 egrets.” Then came the Roaring Twenties and a sea change. What happened?
The bob. That new, shocking, short haircut that swept through America (and much of the Western world) in the late 1910s and 1920s created a demand for cloche hats. Heavily plumed hats were no longer the fashion, and the demand for birds’ plumes plummeted. The bob contributed mightily to the preservation of birds all over the world.
Check out these “before and after” illustrations from Sears catalogues from the 1910s and 1924.