American Humane Education Society

The American Humane Education Society (AHES) was formed by George T. Angell, the founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), in 1889. The object of the Society, according to Angell, was “to carry unsectarian humane education gratuitously outside the State of Massachusetts, throughout the country and the continent, and by the employment of suitable agents to establish Bands of Mercy and Humane Societies wherever they are most needed.”

Upon the AHES’s establishment, the following categories of membership were designated

  • Active life membership: $100
  • Associative life membership: $50
  • Active annual membership: $10
  • Associate annual membership: $5
The American Humane Education Society worked in partnership with the MSPCA, and Our Dumb Animals was the official publication of both organizations.The AHES had fieldworkers stationed across the USA and in other countries such as Canada, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Holland, France, Mexico, and Cuba, all working to spread the message of compassion for animals and the importance of Humane Education. The AHES published and distributed thousands of copies of pamphlets and Humane Education texts, promoted and participated in the annual Be Kind to Animals Week®, and undertook countless other activities including the sponsorship of poster and essay competitions, delivering illustrated lectures, and lobbying for the inclusion of Humane Education in school curricula.

The AHES and MSPCA also formed the first Jack London Club in 1918, an organization formed in response to growing concern about the use of animals in entertainment. Its namesake, the author, Jack London, was so outraged over what he had witnessed on this front that he wrote two novels as a way of educating the public about the way that animals who performed in circuses and other entertainment venus were treated: Jerry of the Islands (1916) and Michael, Brother of Jerry (1917). London died shortly after these books were written, but his words reached many. Those who joined the Jack London Club received free copies of London’s books. By the 1920s there were approximately 750,000 who had joined the Jack London Club.

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George T. Angell writing on the subject of forming a Humane Education Society, 1880.
Collection of MSPCA Angell.

“Feeding the Birds” poster c.1921.
Collection of Robert Penney.

Be Kind to Animals™ metal button, front. Produced by the American Humane Education Society. Collection of MSPCA Angell.

“A New Campaign.” Brochure published by the American Humane Education Society.
Collection of MSPCA Angell.

Membership form on the back page of American Humane Education Society brochure, 1920s. Collection of MSPCA Angell.

Next Section: Bands of Mercy

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  1. Readers might be interested in the history of the Ottawa Humane Society, founded in 1888 as the Women’s Humane Society of Ottawa, to protect animals and children.
    The child protection branch eventually became the Children’s Aid Society.
    More recently, I have had my doubts about this organization working to achieve its mission, but its beginnings seem impressive.

  2. I would love to see Sarah James Eddy be recognized for her early support of the american Humane Education Society. Thanks!

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