This post is contributed by Darby Reiners, Project Archivist, Animal Welfare and Animal Rights Collections.
After a lot of hard work over the past year, the Animal Rights Network Records are now available for research! Processing the collection was challenging at times, and the nagging feeling that the unprocessed boxes were multiplying while we weren’t looking was present all too often. The results are well worth it, though: this sizable collection documenting the animal rights movement is now accessible to the public. The Animal Rights Network Records contain correspondence, office files, reports, clippings, publications, mailings, and audiovisual resources documenting the activities of the Animal Rights Network (ARN) and other groups advocating for the ethical and humane treatment of animals.
One of the largest series in the collection is the Animal Rights Network files, which include extensive information on how the organization prepared their bi-monthly magazine, Animals’ Agenda . The magazine contained original content and also served to help smaller animal rights organizations network with members of the animal rights community. ARN also maintained a library and archives and encouraged its members to collect and maintain their own collections documenting the animal rights and animal welfare movements; many members donated their collections to ARN. Other series include those of individuals from different organizations as well as files from larger organizations; these individuals and organizations include Ruth Gehlert, head of the Humane Crusade organization in Arizona; Susan Wiedman, founder of the Charlottesville Voices for Animals in Virginia; and the Farm Animal Reform Movement . It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between these groups and individuals. Some of the groups were focused on only one subject within the larger animal rights movement, like the Farm Animal Reform Movement, while others collected materials that covered many subjects not directly connected to animal rights such as vegetarianism, environmentalism, and educational materials. It was also fascinating to see the different ideas that each group or individual had about animal rights issues like hunting, pet overpopulation, and animal testing.
We concluded our processing work with the oversize materials. This part of the processing was the most interesting part of our work because the majority of materials were posters, prints, and drawings that people had created for the animal rights movement. One of these pieces can be viewed below:
Overall, we are pleased about the arrangement of the collection and the guide to its contents. It was a lot of work, but the journey to the finish line was full of exciting discoveries.