Harriet Lawrence Hemenway
|Died||1960 (aged 101–102)|
During the Gilded Age, it became fashionable for women to wear hats decorated with plumes. These plumes came from woodpeckers, bluebirds, owls, herons and warblers, thousands of which were killed each year. In 1896, Hemenway and her cousin Minna B. Hall held tea parties for the wealthy women of Boston where they urged them not to wear feathered hats and invited them to join a society for the protection of birds. Having gained the support of many of these fashionable women, Hemenway and Hall then organized meetings between leaders of the high society and prominent New England ornithologists, paving the way for the creation of the Massachusetts Audubon Society; over 900 women joined.
Hemenway and Hall recruited William Brewster, a leading ornithologist, to be the Massachusetts Audubon Society's first president. Women played a critical role in the organization, counting for half of its officers and serving as leaders of most of the local chapters. The group used its political power to have a Massachusetts law passed in 1897 outlawing trade in wild bird feathers as well as a federal law, the 1900 Lacey Act, which prohibits the interstate shipment of animals killed in violation of local laws. The Massachusetts Audubon Society remains independent, but it helped to organize the National Association of Audubon Societies (incorporated in 1905), which later became the National Audubon Society.
Hemenway Street was named in her honor. It runs between Boylston Street and Huntington Avenue in Boston's Fenway neighborhood.
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- Weidensaul, Scott (2007). Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding. Harcourt. p. 156.
- Massachusetts Historical Society. "Massachusetts Audubon Society Collection Guide Complete". Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- The Harvard Crimson. June 15, 1898 http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1898/6/15/no-headline-mrs-harriet-l-hemenway/. Retrieved April 14, 2015. Missing or empty
- "Back Bay East". Boston Women's Heritage Trail.