Humane Education is part of a larger cultural shift in the way people have started to think about our relationships with the animals we share the planet with. Below is a timeline of some of the key moments in this broader history.

1751: William Hogarth’s “Four Stages of Cruelty” published

1822: “Martin’s Act” passed in Britain

1824: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals formed (RSPCA)

1866: Henry Bergh founds the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

1867: Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) is founded

1868: George T. Angell founds the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)

1868: Our Dumb Animals, the publication of the MSPCA (and later the AHES) is founded

1869: Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals formed

1870: Education Act passed in Britain

1875: Catherine Smithies forms the first Band of Mercy in Britain

1875: Frances Power Cobbe forms the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) in Britain

1877: Anna Sewell publishes Black Beauty

1877: American Humane Association (AHA) formed

1877: Michigan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals formed

1882: George T. Angell and Rev. Thomas Timmins start Bands of Mercy in the USA

1883: Caroline Earle White founds the American Anti-Vivisection Society

1886: Humane Education made compulsory in the state of Massachusetts

1888: Rev. S. Massey starts the first Canadian Band of Mercy in St. Henri, Quebec

1889: American Humane Education Society formed

1890: George T. Angell brings Black Beauty to readers in the United States

1891: National Canine Defence League founded

1893: Margaret Marshall Saunders publishes Beautiful Joe after winning a competition sponsored by the American Humane Education Society

1897: Our Dumb Friends’ League was founded

1898: Frances Power Cobbe forms the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)

1905: William O. Stillman and Stella H. Preston form the New York Humane Education Committee

1905: Oklahoma and Pennsylvania legislate mandatory Humane Education in schools

1906: The Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society was established by Louise Lind af Hageby and Nina Duchess of Hamilton

1909: The State of Illinois introduces legislation requiring Humane Education in schools

1910: Detroit Humane Society formed

1912: Our Dumb Friends’ League establishes the Blue Cross fund to assist animals injured in war

1915: The first “Be Kind to Animals Week” takes place

1915: Angell Memorial Hospital opens at the MSPCA

1916: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) forms a Humane Education Department

1916: American Red Star Animal Relief is formed to assist animals injured in war

1917: People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals is established in east London

1918: The Latham Foundation was founded

1918: The MSPCA and AHES form the first Jack London Club

1920: First screening of Bell of Atri by the AHES

1925: AHA establishes the William O. Stillman fund for Humane Education

1927: Nina Halvey forms the Miss B’Kind Club

1936: The Anti-Cruelty Society began a radio program called Animals in the News 

1937: The Anti-Cruelty Society began a Humane Education program, and Virginia Sedgwick was hired as the Society’s first full time Humane Educator


  1. I just came across a 1 inch round coin, to hang on a necklace, that says Humane Poster Contest 1927 on the back. The front shows a woman and young child with a large (great dane?) looking up. Around the coin “Humane Education” The American SPCA. I think it was my mothers who would have been 13 years….any clues?

  2. In 1943, a self-taught artist at 16 years old, I entered the Latham Foundation’s international poster competition, Educate For Peace and, total surprise, won First Prize. —Harris Barron

  3. 105 years ago, Illinois required Humane Ed to be taught in schools. How we have regressed.


  1. […] Teachers & Parents” includes curriculum and lesson planning ideas, and the “Timeline” gives a brief overview of some of the key moments in early Humane Education. And, finally, […]

  2. […] It’s Be Kind To Animals Week and The Humane Society has a long history with this campaign. For over a hundred years they’ve made it their mandate to help shift how people treat animals. An interesting timeline from cruelty to kindness can be found at bekindexhibit.org […]

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