ASPCA Collaborates with the NC State University Libraries to Digitize Over 150,000 Pages of Historical Animal Welfare Archival Material

April 4, 2022

The ASPCA and the NC State University Libraries recently announced the completion of a three-year, grant-funded project to digitize the ASPCA Historical Archive–a curated collection of more than 150,000 pages of archival material, including annual reports, journals, scrapbooks, photos and publications that provide a timeline of the work and influence of the ASPCA since our founding on April 10, 1866. As the first animal welfare organization to be established in North America, the ASPCA has served as the nation’s leading voice for animals for 156 years and remains deeply committed to improving the lives of at-risk dogs, cats, equines and farm animals across the United States. 

“Since the ASPCA’s inception 156 years ago, education has been one of the primary means of fulfilling our mission to prevent cruelty towards animals, and we are pleased to provide unprecedented access to our archives to shed light on the development of the modern animal protection and humane movements in the United States,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “The ASPCA Historical Archive highlights groundbreaking achievements to save and improve the lives of animals across the country and we hope it will be an invaluable resource for animal welfare rescuers, advocates and scholars. We thank the NC State University Libraries for their partnership on this exciting project, which offers a comprehensive look at the history of progress and innovation in the fight against animal cruelty.”

"Thanks to the support and collaboration from the ASPCA, the Special Collections team at NC State University Libraries has successfully digitized and described a sizable portion of the ASPCA's historical archives,” said Gwynn Thayer, the Interim Department Head of our Special Collections Research Center. “We are thrilled to host these digitized assets on the website; these historical materials will be enormously beneficial to scholars of animal studies and animal protection around the world."

Today, we work to assist animals in need through direct medical care, on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training and resources. 

Many of these key areas of work can be tied directly to our rich history captured in the Archive, which demonstrates the ongoing necessity of our unique mission and capabilities and the resilient evolution of our strategies and tactics to help animals in need, given the challenges of the time. From the ASPCA’s foundational role in creating and enforcing laws to protect animals from cruelty to being a credible authority on animal welfare issues, we’ve pioneered new animal welfare practices and disseminated influential research to the animal welfare field to improve the lives of people and pets over the past 156 years.

The collaboration between the ASPCA and the NC State University Libraries on “The Animal Turn: Digitizing Animal Protection and Human-Animal Studies Collections,” was made possible by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The “animal turn” describes a shift in scholarly interest in the growing field of human-animal studies. This project brings together key materials from the NC State University Libraries’ Animal Rights and Welfare Collections, housed in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and historical records of the ASPCA. The NC State University Libraries’ Animal Rights and Welfare collections document the social, cultural, legislative, political and intellectual history of animal welfare and animal rights, spanning from the 19th century to the present.