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Oral history interview with Jim Mason [electronic resource], 1999.

Creator: Mason, Jim
Project: Animal Advocates Oral History Collection
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 97 pages sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96 kHz, 24 bit)
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Jim Mason (1940-) grew up on a farm in Missouri. During the 1970s he became active in many radical causes including fair housing, racial equality, and animal advocacy. Mason spent two years researching factory farms with ethicist Peter Singer, which resulted in the publication of Animal Factories in 1980. Mason also helped found the magazine The Animals' Agenda in 1979, which was initially a quarterly and later a monthly. Mason left the publication in 1986, and shortly thereafter began research on the origins of animal abuse and agriculture. This resulted in the publication of An Unnatural Order in 1993. At the time of the interview he was working for Two Mauds, Inc., a foundation that helped fund grassroots animal advocacy projects around the United States.

Scope and Contents

Jim Mason begins this three session interview discussing his experiences growing up on a farm in Missouri during the 1950s. He analyzes at length the rural outlooks on animals, including in agriculture and hunting. He describes his initial interests in biology, entry into college as a pre-med student, and eventual decision to pursue law career instead. He describes his introduction to animal rights while at law school, and becoming more politically conscious in the 1970s following the death of his wife and as the result of his work as a legal services attorney in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Mason describes the animal rights movement in the 1970s and attending a conference in Cambridge, England. He speaks about research on Animal Factories and the public's response. He also describes the founding of The Animals' Agenda and his eventual departure. He also discusses his writing of An Unnatural Order. Finally, he analyzes activities and characteristics of the animal rights movement in the 1980s, including activist demographics, rallies and actions, factory farming, reaction of the media, and strategies. The interview is accompanied by one box of attachments, including writings by Mason and issues of The Animals' Agenda.


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Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016.

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