We have an Edwardian Ladies Black Silk Hat with ostrich feathers in our Women's Suffrage Collection.
The Edwardian era is often remembered by hats stacked with feathers, bows, and flowers. Sometimes these hats were very large. These were called Gainsborough or Picture hats for how they framed ladies' faces. The popularity of large feathers and stuffed birds on the hats caused concern for the welfare and population of birds. The largest plumes came from ostriches who were farm raised and their feathers collected as they fell naturally.
These hats can be seen in the many photographs as well as pro- and anti-suffrage propaganda for the women's suffrage movement. In the 1917 parliamentary records, Ludlow MP Rowland Hunt is recorded as having said: "There are obvious disadvantages about having women in Parliament. I do not know what is going to be done about their hats. How is a poor little man to get on with a couple of women wearing enormous hats in front of him?"