Records of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This first deposit of the records of BUAV predominantly contains material produced since the 1960s. However, there are a variety of minutes from assorted committees stretching from BUAV's formation in 1898 through to 1990 [DBV/2]. This includes a series of Executive Committee minutes, 1899-1904 and 1916-1929. Annual General Meeting minutes cover the period 1966-1978. There is a series of annual reports from 1898 to 1992 at DBV/3. Apart from these classes of records the administrative history of BUAV is not well documented. There are five files containing correspondence relating to a variety of matters, including with Mrs Dorothy Hegarty, founder of the Promoters of Animal Welfare, and concerning the Democracy Working Group, 1985-1986 [DBV/4]. Membership records for BUAV are also sparse, predominantly covering the period 1929 to 1966. These comprise both headquarters registers and those of the branches [DBV/5]. There is an assortment of financial material relating to BUAV from 1971 onwards. This material includes details of legacies left to BUAV, the formation of companies and the use of advertisements [DBV/6]. The legal records in this deposit predominantly cover the aftermath of the campaign against Wickham Research Laboratories which resulted in a court case against BUAV [DBV/7]. There are four files relating to property owned by BUAV in London, Leicester and Harrogate [DBV/31]. Branch records are assorted covering the period 1933-1982 [DBV/32]. This includes a series of annual reports from the South Eastern Area, 1946-1962, and a series of files relating to each branch, arranged in alphabetical order. BUAV involvement with other animal welfare groups participating in joint organisations is documented by a series of files and volumes [DBV/33]. This includes details of the campaigns to gain parliamentary support during the 1960s, minutes from the Conference of Anti Vivisection Societies and the British Council of Anti Vivisection Societies during the 1960s and 1970s [DBV/33/6-8, 20-24].

A considerable part of the BUAV archive includes some 118 files of press cuttings covering the period 1932 to 1993 [DBV/30]. These files are all original, some assembled by topic while others appear in chronological order.

There is a series of periodicals from 1901 to 1994 [DBV/23]. This includes The Abolitionist, 1901-1949; The Antivivisectionist, 1949-1969; AV Times, 1969-1975 [DBV/24]; Animal Welfare, 1972-1980; Liberator, 1983-1991; Campaign Report, 1991-1994; Junior Section News Sheet, 1945-1949; and Youth Section News Sheet, 1950-1953. Internal bulletins covering 1982-1994 comprise a significant section of the archive, including BUAV News, 1990-1993; Contacts Mailout, 1982-1990; and Information Update, 1988-1994 [DBV/27]. There is also a series of pamphlets published by BUAV from 1873 to 1994 [DBV/25]. A number of the early publications have been bound into volumes covering 1874 to circa 1960. In addition there are eighteen files of archive pamphlets arranged in alphabetical order, by title, covering the whole period. Leaflets produced since the 1960s can also be found. These have generally been arranged in alphabetical files. Propaganda leaflets reproducing Home Office statistics detailing the number of experiments carried out upon living animals are accompanied by five bound volumes of Home Office Annual Returns [DBV/25/46-52]. Other propaganda material includes two files of posters, 1980-1994, and three poster tubes covering the Barbados campaign [DBV/28]. There are six video tapes and one audio tape produced by BUAV during the 1950s and 1960s to highlight the suffering of animals and their own efforts to relieve this suffering [DBV/29/1-7].

The archive contains a number of original files. These include 48 subject files relating to specific areas and are arranged in alphabetical order [DBV/21]. This includes correspondence with, for example, cosmetic companies and the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association [DBV/21/20]. There are also files relating to institutions carrying out animal experiments, such as Huntingdon Research Centre and General Motors/Vauxhall [DBV/21/26, 27,29]. There are 33 files relating to other animal rights groups [DBV/22]. These are arranged in alphabetical order and include specific files bearing the title of the organisation as well as some more general files containing lists of contact names and an `International animal rights directory' [DBV/22/5]. Files relating to individual organisations contain a variety of information including literature, minutes and photographs.

This first deposit covers a variety of campaigns undertaken by BUAV since 1968. There is one file relating to initial discussions surrounding the establishment of the campaign in support of the Rafton Pounder Bill of 1968, which advocated a ban on the export of animals for vivisection [DBV/16/1]. The main political campaigns have been undertaken with the support of other animal rights groups in the form of the General Election Coordinating Committees of the 1979 and 1983 elections. There is a small amount of information relating to these campaigns in the archives, mainly comprising correspondence, minutes, press coverage and propaganda materials [DBV/11,12].

The joint Mobilisation for Laboratory Animals campaign is documented. There are 24 files covering the initial correspondence and minutes of the campaign, administrative details regarding the demonstrations undertaken in London as part of the Week of Action, 5-12 May 1984, and the Inspection Day held on 19 November 1985, along with press cuttings and campaign literature [DBV/14].

A small amount of information exists detailing BUAV's campaign against the Royal College of Surgeons. Evidence was obtained illustrating the poor conditions in which the college was keeping their animals for research purposes, in particular the monkey, Mone [DBV/10]. The material includes correspondence, press cuttings and photographs of a `Free Mone' demonstration (circa 1985) [DBV/10/5].

Documentation regarding the Choose Cruelty Free campaign includes eight correspondence files as BUAV sought to obtain information on cosmetic companies' use of animals in experiments [DBV/8/1-8]. This campaign produced an `Approved cosmetic and household product guide' available to the consumer. There are six files directly relating to the 1988 and 1989 publications including draft copies and details of the financial expenditure involved in production [DBV/8/12-17]. A `Not tested on animals' logo was launched as part of the campaign against such experiments. Correspondence with cosmetic companies regarding their registration for this logo can be found at DBV/8/5-7. There are also a number of files containing press cuttings and campaign literature, including three editions of the Choose Cruelty Free magazine, 1987-1989 [DBV/8/18-29].

Papers relating to the Health with Humanity campaign in the archive include a campaign leaflet, setting out the campaign objectives, an information sheet and a Health with Humanity magazine, complete with draft copy. There is also a Charities Report for the campaign which discusses changes in lifestyle which would reduce the incidence of diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and the experiments undertaken to produce existing treatments for these illnesses [DBV/13].

There are four files relating to the Paradise Lost - End the International Trade in Primates for Research campaign in the collection [DBV/15]. This includes details of the campaign launch on 23 June 1993 at press conferences in Brighton and Leeds. Subsequent press releases, information and photographs gathered for the campaign can be found at DBV/15/3 and 4.

The European Cosmetics campaign was launched in 1991 as a direct response to the European Cosmetics Directive 76/768, regarding the use of animals in cosmetic experiments. The archive contains a report produced by BUAV outlining the implications of the directive, `Brussels march and rally. The directive explained' [DBV/9/2]. There are a number of files relating to campaign press conferences held in 1991 and containing information in a number of European languages [DBV/9/5-10]. Two files contain material regarding a petition organised against the directive [DBV/9,13]. Material regarding the use of Vanity, a six foot white rabbit, in the campaign against cosmetic testing comprises a file of press cuttings dated 1991-1993 [DBV/17/1]. There are two items in the archive relating to the campaign against the patenting of the Harvard Oncomouse. There is a copy of the report produced by BUAV and Compassion in World Farming opposing the patent and a press release outlining the campaign [DBV/18].

The use of demonstrations as a campaign tactic is documented within the archive. There are four files relating to campaigns between 1983 and 1985 specifically against research organisations, in this case Biorex, based in London, and Oxford University [DBV/19]. Administrative details regarding the London demonstration of the Mobilisation for Laboratory Animals campaign of May 1984 can be found at DBV/14/9-13. There are also two files of press cuttings regarding demonstrations between 1981 and 1984 [DBV/30/31,36].

There are a number of files concerning BUAV's activities in training members and attempting to educate the wider public. This covers the educational bus tour of 1990, including administrative details of three stops made at schools in Kent, London and Surrey [DBV/20/3-6]. BUAV contacts training weekends of 1989 and 1990 are documented within the archive. The material includes application forms, timetables of the weekends, registration details and workshop coordinators papers [DBV/20/12-37]. Papers relating to training days for BUAV staff held between 1988 and 1990 cover the administration involved in the events, including correspondence and lists of delegates [DBV/20/39-50].

There is a small amount of material relating to the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research. This includes a report and accounts for the period January 1967-March 1972, a promotional pamphlet and leaflets [DBV/34/2-4]. Through his work as a Medical Doctor, Hadwen was charged with manslaughter after the death of a patient suffering from pneumonia in Gloucester. A report of his trial and acquittal can be found at DBV/34/5.

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) was founded in 1898 by Miss Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904). Concern for the welfare of animals was not a new phenomena, the first wave of anti-vivisection feeling in England commenced around the middle of the nineteenth century. It began as an animal protection movement primarily concerned with the prevention of cruel working class sports such as bull baiting and cockfighting, hence support came from the middle and upper classes who saw nothing wrong with their own blood sports. The first anti-vivisection societies originated in 1875, the year in which a Royal Commission looked into the question of laboratory animals. Perhaps the best known of these societies was the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection which later became the Victoria Street Society (VSS) and then the National Anti Vivisection Society (NAVS), which survives today. Miss Cobbe established the VSS and for eighteen years served as Honorary Secretary, succeeded by Stephen Coleridge (1854-1936) in 1897. It was here that disputes began. Coleridge argued that after some twenty years campaigning for the complete abolition of animal experiments they had failed to achieve any change in the nature of experiments. He therefore proposed that a policy calling for the restriction of animal experiments should be advocated, working on the theory that success of this policy would eventually lead to total abolition. However, Miss Cobbe was outraged, returning from semi retirement in rural Wales to leave NAVS with a small group of the older members, whom she believed had formed the nucleus of her movement, to form BUAV. The society was officially founded in Bristol on 14 June 1898.

The events of 1898 served to divide the antivivisection movement as Miss Cobbe searched for her successor. The ideal candidate not only had to fight vivisection but to fight Coleridge and his restriction policies. Dr Walter R Hadwen (1854-1932) was chosen, becoming Honorary Treasurer and then, after Miss Cobbe's death, President. During his presidency the gap between BUAV and NAVS widened.

BUAV began initially in Bristol, yet through an extensive programme of tours, meetings and lectures they sought support throughout England and Wales. By the end of June 1898 the first branch, Wales, had been established claiming 253 members. The first half-yearly report also stated the intention to engage the services of a Medical Doctor, so they could meet medical opponents on their own ground when either the cruelty or the inadequacy of vivisection was disputed. There seems no doubt that the momentum of the movement helped their word to spread quickly in the early years. The organisation was structured upon a regional basis and by 1899 had eight sections. There does not appear to have been a central structure at the outset of the Union. Perhaps the only national event in the 1890s was the publication of The Abolitionist, which first appeared on 15 April 1899. Campaigning work was undertaken by the branches in the form of the production and distribution of mass publications. Shops were opened for short periods of time displaying placards and staffed by ardent anti-vivisectionists. By 1903 there were 20 federated societies and a Parliamentary Association, formulated to speak on behalf of the abolition cause in the House of Commons. In August of this year BUAV were invited to send a delegate to the second meeting of the International Congress of the World's League for the Protection of Animals against Vivisection, held in Frankfurt. Propaganda work was undertaken in the form of correspondence through the newspapers. This work through the media and the setting up of The Abolitionist so swiftly after the society was officially formulated was due to the refusal of The Zoophilist, published by NAVS, to carry articles regarding BUAV, as it was prepared to do for other anti vivisection societies.

Campaigning for the abolition of vivisection at the beginning of the twentieth century had strong affinities to the campaign against inoculation. They shared the view that animal experiments did not provide reliable results for inoculations which were then to be administered to human beings. Attacks upon universities which were granted licenses under the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act to practice vivisection were undertaken.

On the death of Miss Cobbe in 1904 her plan to move the headquarters of BUAV to London finally came to fruition. The new premises not only served as headquarters for the Union but also as a centre for information. Beatrice Kidd, Organising Secretary since January 1904, took up residence at 32 Charing Cross, on hand to provide visitors with an array of publications advocating the work of the society. By 1906 there were 21 federated societies and the involvement of the Union with other abolitionist societies continued to grow. In March 1906 Dr Hadwen represented BUAV at a meeting of the International Anti Vivisection Council, which called for the adoption of one parliamentary bill for the abolition party. Although BUAV were at this time advocating their own abolition bill to their supporters in the Houses of Parliament they cooperated with the joint proposals. In July 1909 an official representative was present at the fourth Triennial Congress of the World League of Opponents of Vivisection, an exclusively abolitionist body.

By 1912 BUAV boasted 49 branches, making it the largest anti vivisection society in the world at this time. As they continued to grow The Abolitionist began to be sold on the street and temporary staff were hired at headquarters. In the 1920s Dr Hadwen visited the United States of America in search of support. By 1924 the Union had 91 branches, two in Australia. Attempting to increase their support BUAV had a stall at the Ideal Life Exhibition of July 1921.

The 1930s was a decade of change. This was immediately preceded in 1929 by the society's changing status to that of a corporation under the Companies Act of 1929. Its Articles of Association are dated 22 November 1929. This effectively meant that BUAV was now a limited company, governed by company rules, and liable to taxation. This decade witnessed the advance of radiogram technology, with BUAV participating in debates broadcast to the nation. A greater emphasis was placed upon London with a number of new branches opening and an increase in the number of propaganda shops. Vans were also used to spread the abolitionist message.

By 1940 the Union reached a peak of 154 branches, including six in Australia and one in New Zealand. The first edition of Junior Section News Sheet, a publication aimed at young supporters, appeared in April 1945. In 1950 it became the Youth Section News Sheet. The Second World War appeared to foster greater ideas of cooperation within the animal welfare movement. The Conference of Anti Vivisection Societies first met on 20 November 1942. Five societies were represented at the invitation of BUAV `for the purpose of discussing and making plans for a joint intensive campaign, after the war, to claim the total abolition of vivisection as a necessary step towards securing for animals their rightful place in the new world order, which it is generally believed will follow the peace'.

By 1949 the Conference of Anti Vivisection Societies was producing joint publications and had adopted BUAV's own Bill for the Prohibition of Vivisection. The immediate post war period began to see a rise in public demonstrations as a medium to spread the anti vivisection message, in particular these were held outside vivisection laboratories.

The promotion of the idea of pets being used in experiments began to be used as a campaign tactic in 1952, attacking the whole trafficking trade of pets to vivisection laboratories. Campaigns were launched attacking the use of animals in satellites and rockets as the space age began. Attempts were also made to focus upon the idea of healthy living as a rational alternative to vivisection, as witnessed in the 1959 campaign, Health without Cruelty. BUAV became a founder member of the British Federation of Animal Welfare Societies in 1952, an organisation affiliated to the World Federation for the Protection of Animals. This steadily increasing cooperation between societies continued with BUAV represented upon five bodies by 1955. A joint committee was created with the RSPCA to produce a film highlighting the position of animals, All Living Things, completed in 1955. BUAV resigned from the British Federation of Animal Welfare Societies in 1958, with a feeling that too many joint organisations within Great Britain were beginning to be counter productive. This was followed in 1959 by new links with the International Conference Against Vivisection in the United States.

In 1960 the Conference of Anti Vivisection Societies became the British Council of Anti Vivisection Societies, and a Joint Consultative Council was formed between BUAV and NAVS. Links were maintained with the Conference of Animal Welfare Societies and the British Council of Anti Vivisection Societies, with a new affiliation with the World Coalition Against Vivisection in 1966. However, references to membership of joint societies in BUAV annual reports began to decrease as the 1960s progressed. The following year amalgamation negotiations between BUAV and NAVS were unable to reach agreement. The late 1960s saw a need for internal reconstruction of the Union. After the resignation of various members of the Executive Committee in 1968 a large number of branches loyal to the disaffected committee members left to join NAVS. This came at a time when calls for change could be heard within the anti vivisection movement. As science had developed many new forms of research were being discovered, and it was considered that the traditional approach of `us' and `them' was becoming outdated. There was too much emphasis upon `anti' vivisection and not enough focus upon new research methods. The Dr Walter Hadwen Foundation was launched in January 1969 in order to raise money to fund those scientists employing alternative research techniques. In 1971 this became the Dr Hadwen Institute for Humane Research.

The 1970s witnessed a change in approach from interest in general discussion of vivisection to concerted campaigns, helped by the national media. In 1975 ICI experiments requiring beagles to smoke cigarettes were discovered and `exposed' in the Sunday People. This form of campaigning proved far more effective at mobilising the populace, marking a turning point for the reformist movement. This led to a more respectable image of antivivisectionists within the minds of the public, furthering cooperation with the scientific community in attempts to decrease the number of experiments. This decade also saw BUAV representatives sitting on the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation. This comprised members drawn from both Houses of Parliament, animal welfare groups and the scientific and medical community, in an attempt to reform the law and administration of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. BUAV continued to support the World Federation for the Protection of Animals. New joint campaigns were launched, such as the General Election Coordinating Committee of 1979 and 1983, and its interim body the National Coordinating Committee for Animal Protection.

The early 1980s again proved to be a time of internal change within BUAV. Calls for greater democracy and the introduction of proxy voting, enabling all members to become directly involved with the decision making of the Union were heard. As a result of this internal discord a large decrease in staff occurred along with a major overhaul of propaganda material. The result of this action was a significant increase in membership and a greater participation of Executive Committee members in the national media. Liberator, the new improved periodical was launched in 1981. By 1982 membership stood at 8,000. Another key area of change was decentralisation of the movement, with the branches urged to become more actively involved in campaigns and decrease their financial burden upon head office. In line with this reductions in staff numbers occurred at head office and in 1984 the offices of President and Vice President were abolished. This decade saw the cooperation of Animal Aid, BUAV, NAVS and Scottish Anti Vivisection Society (SAVS) under the banner of Mobilisation for Laboratory Animals in campaigning against the Government's proposals to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. This law was replaced by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill 1986, which was not considered to have afforded animals any more protection than the provisions of the 1876 legislation, providing the vivisectors with more protection from impunity.

The 1980s witnessed a tremendous increase in the level and variety of campaigns undertaken. The Royal College of Surgeons was attacked for the conditions in which the research monkey, Mone, was kept. Wickham Research Laboratories Ltd. in Hampshire was attacked for its part in animal experiments, as was the government of the day for its proposals to review the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. 1987 saw the continuance of these campaigns accompanied by cooperative action, such as the World Day for Laboratory Animals demonstration organised by BUAV, NAVS and Animal Aid. The Choose Cruelty Free campaign, launched in March 1988, was the biggest project yet undertaken by BUAV, calling for the avoidance of cosmetic and household products tested upon animals. It continues to the present day, and claims it will do so until all cosmetic testing on animals is abolished. The Health with Humanity campaign, launched in June 1988, advocated a reduction in disease without recourse to drugs tested upon animals. It was based upon three statements, that drugs tested on animals have failed to benefit human health in the past and will remain unable to do so in the future; that drugs tested on animals do not have the same effect when administered to humans; and that animal experiments are increasingly unnecessary because of the development of alternative methods of research and treatment which do not rely on animals. The European Cosmetics campaign, launched in 1991, called for the adoption of European law to outlaw the use of animals in experiments. This was a particular response to the European directive on cosmetics, 76/768. Paradise Lost, the campaign to end the international trade in primates for research was launched in June 1992. It called for a ban on the import of wild caught and captive breed primates to Great Britain, at the time one of the world's largest importers of primates. This could be made possible under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976. Involvement in Europe also occurred with the campaign against animal patenting, in particular the patenting of the Oncomouse by Harvard scientists in 1993. This mouse had been specifically engineered to develop cancer. The campaign, lead by BUAV and Compassion in World Farming, challenged the belief by the European Patent Office (EPO) that the exploitation of the `invention' was not contrary to morality, something expressly prohibited under the European Patent Convention. In a wider context the campaign challenged the criteria with which the EPO assessed whether something was contrary to morality.

The 1980s saw an increase in the use of the media, culminating in a cinema advertisement for the Choose Cruelty Free campaign in 1991, which depicted a human face reflecting that of an animal after it had been used in laboratory experiments. The 1980s also witnessed a greater involvement in education. In 1982 attempts were made to open the discussion on the issue of dissection in schools. Bus tours to schools began in 1990 which not only involved talks by BUAV staff but also the distribution of education packs and trips around the specially adapted bus, in an attempt to provide school children with as much information as possible about the experiments which animals were subjected to in British laboratories.

The animal welfare movement in Great Britain was the first in the world to involve itself directly in the political arena rather than simply opting for occasional involvement with a particular piece of legislation relating to animals. This was first seen in the General Election Coordinating Committee for Animal Protection campaigns of 1979 and 1983. The first campaign was successful in gaining the establishment of a Standing Council on Animal Welfare, and the acceptance by political parties that animal welfare was the concern of Government and should not be left to Private Members, as in the past. Perhaps another indication of the level of BUAV involvement in politics came in 1990 with the appointment of a full-time political researcher. The Manifesto for animals was launched by BUAV, Compassion in World Farming and Lynx in 1991. This document set out the most pressing political priorities in their areas of greatest concern: animal experimentation, intensive farming and the fur trade. The proposals included outlawing the most controversial experiments, LD50 and the Draize Test, and developing a strategy for the promotion, development and use of research methods not involving animals. An end to the practice of cruel systems, such as battery farming and the establishment of strong regulatory mechanisms to prevent abuse were outlined. To kerb the fur trade an end was called to the cruel and indiscriminate trapping of wild animals for their fur and prohibitions on the factory farming of such animals for their skins.

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Originally published by Access to Archives - A2A. The data in this finding aid is in the copyright of the place of deposit.


Nicolaas A Rupke, ed, Vivisection in historical perspective, (London; Routledge, 1990)

Judith E Hampson, `Animal experimentation, 1876-1976: Historical and contemporary perspectives', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leicester, 1978

Peter Singer, In defence of animals, (Oxford; Basil Blackwell, 1985)