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Hatpins Banned in Chicago

Archivist note: This post is from an older recovered archive.


It has recently come to my attention that the Chicago City Council has created an anti-hatpin ordinance.

The excuse given was that long hairpins are a safety hazard, and further that, "Hidden in a mass of plumage or hair, it comes under the designation of a concealed weapon."

Foolishness. What is wrong with concealed weapons? And as for safety, do these big strong men need an ordinance to protect them? Surely not.

If the ladies of Chicago are anything like those of New Babbage and Caledon then these councilmen will soon learn the error of their ways. News of this sort reminds me how fortunate I am to be an inhabitant of the enlightened and tolerant Steamlands.

Below is a transcription of the newspaper article:

”’Ban On Long Hatpins”’

Chicago Council Orders Ordinance Drawn to Prevent Their Use.

”’CHICAGO, March 7.”’–Women’s long hatpins were declared to be a public nuisance and an anti-hatpin ordinance was ordered drawn up by the Judiciary Committee of the City Council to-day.

The Action followed a week’s crusade against the hatpin, which culminated to-day in a public hearing. The ordinance stipulated that hatpins worn in public places "shall not extend more than one-half inch beyond the crown of the hat."

Nine Aldermen, three or four lawyers, and a score of protesting women were present at the public hearing.

"We want to protest right here against this attempt to regulate women’s attire," declared Francis Hinckley, representing the women. "It does not become the City of Chicago to try to dictate what its women shall wear."

"That’s right," said Miss Nan E. Davis, interrupting her counsel. "These hatpins are women’s only means of defense. You must not dictate to us women."

"Well, you women want to regulate what we men drink, don’t you?" interposed Alderman Mack.

Amid a chorus of "boo-boos" from female voices Alderman Herman J. Bauler, who started the agitation in the Council, stepped forward and described what he called "the truth about this whole hatpin situation."

"I do not believe there was ever a time in history when women have shown so much eccentricity in their personal adornment as at present," he said. "We have had the tight skirt, the marcel mave, and now comes the yard-wide hat, with its remarkable accessories."

"In addition to ribbons, laces, wires, flowers, vegetables, animals, and birds, women’s headgear is armed with the deadly ‘snickersee.’ If women care to wear carrots and roosters on their heads, that is a matter of their own concern, and it cannot be interfered with by the city, but when it comes to wearing swords they must be stopped. One man told me he was almost decapitated in the City Hall elevator by the sweep of a hatpin like a scimitar worn by one of the City Hall belles."

"In the street cars people are in danger of losing their eyes by sitting beside some lovely devotee of the fashions. The hatpin may be the only weapon woman has to ward off attack, but let her wear it sheathed in her belt. Hidden in a mass of plumage or hair, it comes under the designation of a concealed weapon."

There were more "boos" from the women, and the committee sent its instructions to the Coporation Counsel to draw up the new ordinance.

(from the New York Times, March 8, 1910)

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Comment by Jedburgh Dagger on March 10, 2010 at 12:24pm

You can make the same assertion about the Sullivan Act in New York City. It seems they forbid the normal population from arming themselves so as to protect the criminals from the prey.
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Comment by Breezy Carver on March 10, 2010 at 12:35pm

nods Indeed delightful reading … found many of these "very interesting" articles : HATPIN A DANGEROUS WEAPON;
and more when Dame Ordinal came out with her fantastic "The Ordinal Amethyst Hatpin ".. who knew it would one day be a collectors item !!
for more .. all documented here .. http://seabreezegal.blogspot.com/2009/06/ladies-ordinal-amethyst-hatpin.html :)
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Comment by blakopal on March 11, 2010 at 1:10pm

OMG that’s an awesome newspaper clipping! who knew women’s adornments had taken such a bold turn into eccentricity! i have seen engravings, but to actually read an account from people being ‘almost decapitated in an elevator by the sweep of a hatpin like a scimitar!!! that is priceless.

clearly the ladies of Babbage need to wear larger hats! steampowered, of course.

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Comment by Serafina Puchkina on March 11, 2010 at 3:02pm

Ridiculous, I say! How can we wear our stylish hats without means of securing them? Just because I purchase my hatpins at the same shop where I get my weaponry from proves nothing at all.

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Comment by Gabriell Anatra on March 11, 2010 at 3:29pm

If the ‘good people’ of Chicago have such issues with hatpins perhaps we should just settle for derringers instead.

It’s enough to make one want to sympathize with the anarchists.
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