Up for adoption – the records of the Women’s Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Along with a few other collections, we recently listed our collection of records from the Women’s Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WPSPCA) among our Adopt-A-Collections that you can check out in our new shop!  There you can find out more information or you can read one of our previous posts about this program.  In a nutshell, by adopting one of the collections listed, you help give us the resources to make them more accessible to the public through improved arrangement and description.

Front page of the WPSPCA's first annual report (1870)

So speaking of adopting, while adopting animals may be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the modern SPCA, it was not among the reasons the WPSPCA was founded.  It was established in 1869 to inspect and examine the condition of horses (the primary mode of transportation of people and goods at the time).  Members especially sought to care for those animals that were physically abused and overworked, and the WPSPCA is credited with the establishment of horse watering stations throughout the city.  They also endeavored to create a central and humane shelter for dogs, as well as the right to care for dogs found wandering the streets.  The WPSPCA was founded two years after the formation of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and was first headed by Caroline Earle White (1833-1916).  An early children and animal rights crusader, White also helped establish the American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Card showing the WPSPCA's move to 3025 W. Clearfield Street (1961)

Both the WPSPCA, currently known as the Women’s Humane Society, and the Pennsylvania SPCA continue the humane work started by White and others in the 1800s.

Clipping from an unidentified newspaper (circa 1961)

HSP’s collection of WPSPCA records consist of 30 linear feet of unprocessed materials that document 100 years of the organization’s history from 1869 to about 1970.  Making up most of the papers are minutes and printed matter (annual reports, their newsletter The Guardian, and clippings); however, there are also a few scrapbooks (pages from two of them are posted below), photographs, and groups of correspondence.

Page from a scrapbook (circa 1944)

From a scrapbook documenting the life of Caroline E. White and other women involved in the WPSPCA (circa 1936)


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