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Oral history interview with Theodora Capaldo, 2000

Creator: Capaldo, Theodora, 1948-
Project: Animal Advocates Oral History Collection
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 52 pages Sound recording: 5 sound cassettes Attachments to interviews: 1.5 Linear ft.
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Theodora Capaldo (1948-) became attuned to animal rights issues during childhood and has been active in animal advocacy organizations for decades. She has served as president and executive director of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) and its educational affiliate the Ethical Science and Education Coalition (ESEC). She is a co-founder of the Carriage Horse Action Committee of Boston and was New England Regional Outreach Coordinator for the Mobilization for Animals' primate rallies, and has held leadership roles in other organizations, as well. Professionally, Capaldo is a psychotherapist. She has maintained a private practice, has taught college-level psychology, and has been director of counseling at a liberal arts college. She has drawn connections between her work and activism through organizations like Psychologists for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PsyETA) and through her outlook on moral development and compassion.

Scope and Contents

In this two-session interview, Theodora Capaldo discusses the range of her activities in animal advocacy. She begins by describing her youth in North Shore, Massachusetts and the attitudes towards animals that she encountered. Capaldo describes becoming an anti-vivisectionist in 6th grade after reading a teacher's material from the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) and experiences rescuing stray dogs as a youth. She discusses her education in the mental health fields and the connections between human abuse and animal abuse, and the influence of feminism and environmentalism on her outlook. Capaldo discusses her increased involvement with NEAVS in the late 1970s after completing her doctoral thesis. She analyzes the effectiveness of the NEAVS throughout its history and its activities throughout the 1980s and discusses her own activities with NEAVS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She analyzes the scientific community's position on vivisection and characteristics of vivisectors. She also discusses the activities and strategies of NEAVS at the time of the interview, including education, recruiting, working with other activist groups, and "winnable issues." The interview is accompanied by three boxes of supplemental materials, most of which correspond to the interviews' footnotes. These include numerous NEAVS documents and publications, such as NEAVS Reporter and NEAVS Update. The materials also include videocassettes published by PETA and the following books: Cleveland Amory's Ranch of Dreams, C. Ray Greek and Jean Swingle Greek's Sacred Cows and Golden Geese, Michael W. Fox's Superpigs and Wondercorn, and Peter Singer's Animal Liberation and Ethics into Action.


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

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