Detail from an anti-vivisection poster about testing cosmetics, 1991

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection

Background to the Collection

Founded in 1898 by Miss Frances Power Cobbe, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was an organisation created to campaign against vivisection of animals. The organisation developed as a system of nationally co-ordinated branches undertaking campaign work, producing and distributing mass publications and holding demonstrations outside institutions which had been granted licences to perform experiments on animals.

By 1912 there were 49 branches, making it the largest anti-vivisectionist organisation in the world. After WWII the BUAV founded the Conference of Anti-Vivisection Societies, which adopted BUAV's own Bill for the Prohibition of Vivisection.

During the 1950s trade in the trafficking of animals and pets for use in laboratories became a focus of campaigning, as did the practice of using animals in the Space Programme. The 1960s saw a change in emphasis towards the adoption of alternative research techniques, and in 1971 the Dr Walter Hadwen Institute for Humane Research was established to undertake such research.

During the 1970s and 1980s the BUAV moved away from general discussion of vivisection towards concerted campaigns, aided by the national media. Campaigns were run during the general elections of 1979 and 1983. This was more effective at mobilising support, increasing membership and promoting the respectability of the anti-vivisection movement. 

What is in the collection?

Material in this collection covers the period 1865-1996. Records include minutes, annual reports, membership registers, financial records, correspondence files, personnel files, administrative files, campaign papers and periodicals.

Records relate to executive committee business, AGMs, branch work and campaigns.

What areas of research would the collection support?

This collection could be used to undertake a written history of the BUAV. It could also help inform a more general piece of research into the history of the animal rights movement in the UK.

Are there any access issues?

Please note that some files may be closed under data protection legislation. Where this is the case, indication is given in individual descriptions on the online catalogue.

Is there any related material?

Related material can be found in the following collections:

Please also see our Politics and Campaigning page for further guidance on our political collections.

See the online catalogue description