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Oral history interview with Robert Cummings, 2000

Creator: Cummings, Robert
Project: Animal Advocates Oral History Collection
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 43 pages Sound recording: 5 sound cassettes
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Robert Cummings was an attorney and animal activist. In his work at the Boston law firm Nixon Peabody LLP, where he worked from 1957, he focused on public utilities law, general corporate law, and non-profits. At the time of the interview, Cummings had been involved with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for over forty years and was serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was also the Treasurer of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. His interests and activities in these organizations have touched on the legal and criminal aspects of animal cruelty, fundraising, publicity, outreach, education, overseas projects, animal shelters, vivisection, and the transport and slaughter of animals.

Scope and Contents

In this two session interview, Robert Cummings discusses his activities with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), with a particular focus on the legal aspects of animal protection. He begins by describing his initial involvement with the MSPCA as a first major account after starting in law in 1957. He describes MSPCA efforts to keep shelter dogs from being used in research at Harvard, legal work regarding animals, and the nature of professionalism. He analyzes the MSPCA's moderate and results-oriented approach in contrast to approach of activist Brian Davies, and discusses collaborations and differences with the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS). He addresses fundraising and the characteristics of donors. He speaks about mistreatment of farm animals including abused horses, issues in livestock transport, and the treatment of animals for halal/kosher markets. In the second session, Cummings begins by discussing connections between violence against animals and humans in legal context. He also discusses the MSPCA's activities and future plans at the time of the interview.


Access Conditions

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

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