Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather by Tessa Boase (Aurum; due on 3 May 2018) This upcoming title tells the parallel stories of the suffragette movement and the women who campaigned against the trade in feathers.
BUSINESS RECORDS London Metropolitan Archives bit.ly/ lma- catalogue Local archives may have details of plumage-related businesses, especially in London, which was the hub of the industry. Trade directories and advertisements in newspapers are also useful sources of information.
CENSUSES You can access census records on ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk, and will find that a wide range of job titles were used in the plumage industry. Broadly, people who sourced feathers for sale in the UK are described as “feather merchant”, “dealer” or “importer”. Those who owned plumage businesses were often called “feather manufacturers”, whereas people working on the factory floor preparing them for sale are listed as “feather dresser”, “feather worker”, “feather dyer” and so forth. Many others had roles in occupations such as fashion, millinery and taxidermy. However, bear in mind that the words ‘feather’ and ‘leather’ can look very similar in handwritten job titles, which may lead to these two industries being confused.
WEBSITES Fashioning Feathers fashioningfeathers.info In 2011 the University of Alberta ran an exhibition about the history of the plumage trade, especially in connection to millinery. The accompanying website is highly illustrated and full of information.
Ostrich Farm (1962) bit.ly/ ostrichfarm You can watch a three-minute film from British Pathé about an ostrich farm in South Africa on YouTube.