Correspondence and a large variety of printed matter relating to the fight over vivisection legislation, largely in New York, but also including New Jersey and the District of Columbia, and generally dating from 1892 to 1909. The papers seem to have originated with John G. Curtis (1844-1913) and Frederic Schiller Lee (1859-1939).
The Vivisection papers document an opposing response to two distinct campaigns for anti-vivisection legislation in New York State: the first in the late 1890's and the second, which makes up the bulk of the collection, the 1908-9 period of the proposed Davis-Lee bill in New York. The collection is primarily correspondence concerned with coordinating the efforts of national medical organizations to distinguish "useless brutality and abuse" from "legitimate scientific work" and to focus public sentiment on the former. Besides large numbers of physicians and scientists, many correspondents are media figures and legislators. The collection is filled with drafts and copies of form letters and laws as well as pamphlets, booklets, handbills, etc. both pro- and anti-vivisection. In addition, there is a smaller amount of material relating to campaigns against similar bills in New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
John G. Curtis, Professor of Physiology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, and his colleague, Associate Professor Frederic Schiller Lee, led the pro-vivisection efforts. Not only is the bulk of the correspondence from or to these two figures, but in their role as coordinators they received copies of letters sent to other prominent figures in the battle, in particular Simon Flexner of the Rockefeller Institute. There are also many drafts of pamphlets and organizational statements that reveal the authorship of Curtis and Lee, though the items were often published anonymously or under collective signatures.
Series I includes two runs of correspondence, the first largely (though not exclusively) created by Curtis and dating from 1875-1909 (Box 1, f.1-3), and the second created by Lee and limited to 1908-09 (Box 1, f.4). The Curtis correspondence is arranged chronologically; the Lee, alphabetically. Researchers should be aware that letters to and from Lee can also be found in the Curtis correspondence. The series also contains several folders of printed legislative material, form letters, handbills and flyers relating specifically to anti-vivisection legislation in New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
Important correspondents include Henry P. Bowditch of Harvard (largely in Box 1:1); Dr. Albert Vanderveer, who coordinated pro-vivisectionist actions in Albany (throughout the correspondence); Albert Leffingwell, a prominent American anti-vivisectionist (Box 1:3); Frederick L. Bellamy, counsel for the Society for the Prevention of Abuse in Animal Experimentation (Box 1:4); Walter B. Cannon of Harvard Medical School and Chairman of the Council on Defense of Medical Research of the AMA (Box 1:4); and Simon Flexner of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and the AMA Council (Box 1:3-4). In addition, there is an interesting exchange of letters in 1892-93 between Curtis and Georgina Schuyler (sister of social reformer Louisa Lee Schuyler) in which Curtis tries to persuade her out of her anti-vivisectionist opinions (Box 1:1).
Throughout much of the correspondence are letters from press agents who were employed by the pro-vivisectionists to provide stories to newspapers around the state regarding the fight.
Series II includes a wide variety of printed matter relating both to the Davis-Lee Bill and to the larger controversy over the use of animal vivisection in medical research. Dating from 1880 to 1947, with the bulk spanning 1890-1910, the material includes pamphlets, flyers, handbills, reprints, legislative bills, and newspaper clippings from both sides of the conflict. Though largely American in origin, it does include British material. Also included are several runs of anti-vivisection periodicals, the most complete of which is Our Dumb Animals (1893-1901), a monthly published by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.