The Feather Trade and the
American Conservation Movement

A virtual exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution's
National Museum of American History

America in the 19th century seemed a land of limitless natural resources. Writers, artists, hunters, collectors, and the new middle class enthusiastically celebrated and exploited the wonders of the natural world in their work, homes, and dress.

But this fascination with nature and a thriving market for its products caused sharp declines in the numbers of many American species. Despite attempts to control hunting, few regulations were widespread and effective enough to halt the slaughter of some animals. Angered by the cruelty inflicted on birds hunted for fashion, a few compassionate and determined individuals stepped forward in the 1890s to found the first Audubon and conservation societies.

Some objects have a feather icon next to them. Click the icon to find out more information.

Feather Adornment
Hunting and Collecting
Audubon Movement

Further Reading
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