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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Beauty and the Beast: Human-Animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905-1935

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Beauty and the Beast
Human-Animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905-1935

This exhibit is the result of a book project in which we used real photo postcards to explore the relationship between humans and animals, 1905-1935. It was during this period that both photo postcards were most popular and Americans experienced profound changes that altered their connection with animals. America was in transition from being predominately rural to a country dominated by cities, from a society where everyday contact with a variety of animals was common to one in which such contact was limited. Cars and trucks replaced horses. Viewing animals, other than pets, came to be done mainly in circuses, zoos and in the movies not in peoples’ own backyards. Food production became industrialized making the animals that are the source of our produce almost invisible. Our book documents the range of roles animals played from pets to vermin. We look at live as well as dead creatures, real as well as fantasy, loved and hated. We explore the contradictions, dualisms and paradoxes of our connection to animals, illustrating how animals were distanced and embraced, commoditized and anthropomorphized.
Robert Bogdan and Arnold Arluke (October 2010)
Arnold Arluke is professor of sociology and anthropology at Northeastern University and Senior Research Fellow at the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy. He has published numerous books including Between the Species and Just a Dog: Animal Cruelty and Ourselves.
Robert Bogdan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Social Science and Education at Syracuse University. He is the author of several books dealing with photo postcards including Real Photo Postcard Guide: The People’s Photography, published by Syracuse University Press. 



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