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Oral history interview with Will Anderson [electronic resource], 2004

Creator: Anderson, Will, 1948-
Project: Animal Advocates Oral History Collection
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 69 pages sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (44 kHz, 16 bit)
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Will Anderson (1948-), environmental activist, was raised and educated in Illinois and Washington. His hometown allowed him to experience Chicago's Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan, where he enjoyed walking and exploring the landscape, and he frequently visited the Museum of Natural History. Anderson entered the United States Air Force (USAF), and later declared himself a conscientious objector to war and was honorably discharged. Once dismissed, Anderson earned an Associate's degree from Spokane Community College and later completed his undergraduate degree in Portland, Oregon. He also travelled through Europe and India for one year. He has worked for Greenpeace in several capacities, and was responsible for founding Greenpeace Alaska. Anderson was also a partner of Ecology House, a chain of environmentally-themed franchised gift stores, and the Progressive Animal welfare Society (PAWS). Anderson has also been employed as a real estate agent and with the Orca Recovery Campaign, a project of Earth Island's Marine Mammal Project. At the time of the interview, he remained involved in activism in the following areas: offshore oil industry's impact on marine mammals; Alaska aerial wolf hunt; Pribilof fur seal hunt; squid drift net fishery; mountain goat hunt in Olympic National park, environmental impact processes (DEIS/EIS), Tribal subsistence and take issues; the Makah gray whale hunt; religious ritual slaughter; Omak Suicide Race; slaughterhouse auctions; commercial egg production; leg hold traps, animal abuse investigations; harp seal hunt; invasive laboratory experimentation; roadside animal shows; marine mammal captivity; and rodeos.

Scope and Contents

In this two session interview, Will Anderson reflects on his development as an activist for the environment and animals. Among issues examined are his decision to become a vegetarian and the impact of personal diet choices on the environment. Anderson talks about his education, decisions about college, his work with the Peace Corps, service in the United states Armed Forces (USAF), and his honorable discharge after becoming a conscientious objector. Additionally, he explains the connection between the yearlong travel to Europe and India and his worldview, the development of his sensitivity to animals, and his activist spirit. Anderson discusses his work with Greenpeace, Native American communities, involvement in protest activity and subsequent arrests, and founding of Ecology House and the Marine Animal Coalition (MAC). He also discusses his battle with cancer and experiences as a gay man. There is also one box of attachments, mostly related to Anderson's work with the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), including documentation of the opposition to the Makah whaling activities and protection of orcas. There are two videocassettes in the attachments: Meet the Gray Whales and Omak Suicide Race: "The Race of Disgrace."


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

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