Julie Lewin began her career as a freelance writer and newspaper journalist, and went from writing articles about sexual abuse of children and women's prison reforms to lobbying for the protection and treatment of animals. The collection documents Lewin's efforts to uphold the rights of animals, and in particular focuses on her opposition to the pet industry and to the use of animals in research.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Julie Lewin
A resident of Connecticut, Julie Lewin began her career as a freelance writer and journalist after obtaining degrees from Barnard College and Columbia University. Always politically active, she went from writing articles about the sexual abuse of children and women's prison reforms to becoming an important advocate for the protection and treatment of animals. Beginning with the Fund for Animals from 1986 to 2000, Lewin led an expose of the Connecticut Humane Society's donation policy, revealing the world of inhumane practices in the pet industry from puppy mills to illegal pet acquisition and kennel management, and she lobbied for new laws to protect animals in research.
Since 1990, Lewin has been the Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Human Education, an organization that both educates the public about animal rescue and rescues inner-city animals. She has also been involved in establishing new, politically-aware organizations to advance animal rights. In 2001, she founded Animal Advocacy Connecticut to lobby state officials on animal issues, and in the following year, she founded The National Institute For Animal Advocacy (NIFAA), an organization that trains activists to win strong state and local laws for animal protection through political action. Reflecting the evolution in Lewin's thought, NIFAA was established specifically to create a political culture among animal rescue and rights advocates; to train advocates how to form voting blocs for animals in their towns, cities, counties and states; and to develop local political leadership among animal advocates to lead these voting blocs.
While much of Lewin's lobbying effort has centered on issues such as hunting, the pet industry, gun control, greyhound racing, dog chaining, rodeos, circuses, marine life, pet overpopulation, and animal research, she has increasingly emerged as an important political strategist, writing about how best to work within the system to effect concrete change. Her book, Get Political For Animals and Win the Laws They Need: Why and How to Launch a Voting Bloc for Animals in Your Town, City, County or State (2007), is a how-to manual for animal rights and rescue advocates. It outlines simple steps that anyone can take to launch a voting bloc, locally or nationally, and it was sponsored or endorsed by a number animal rights organizations, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Trust, Animal World USA, Best Friends Animal Society, Coalition For Animals, Compassion in Entertainment, Connecticut Humane Society, Dogs Deserve Better, Farm Sanctuary, Fox Memorial Clinic, Fund for Animals, Humane Society of the US, Lapin Foundation, and the League of Humane Voters of New York City.
The Lewin Papers contain materials on animal advocacy collected by Julie Lewin from 1966 to 2003, with the bulk dating from 1975-1995. In addition to articles written by and about Lewin, the collection includes some background information on Lewin, and a large suite of documents focused both on upholding the inherent rights of animals and on lobbying efforts for the protection and treatment of animals. The majority of the collection was gathered by Lewin's attorneys in relation to their protracted legal battle with United States Surgical Company over opposition to the use of live animals in medical testing.
The collection is organized chiefly as it was when Lewin presented it to her lawyer, preserving the paper trail she established over the years as she documented the pet industry.
This series contains a full range of information about the use of animals for research, including materials concerning Draize testing, proposed bills to ban cosmetics testing, and bills to limit the use of animals for research and testing. Articles and pamphlets on alternatives to animal testing are provided as well as cosmetic company information. There are also facility inspection records, information about medical testing, and articles and information concerning a University of Connecticut's professor animal research.
The rest of series contains information about United States Surgical Company, a company using dogs for medical demonstrations of surgical staplers. In particular, Lewin collected newspaper clippings documenting the case against animal rights activist Fran Trutt, who was charged with the attempted murder of Leon Hirsh, chairman of U.S. Surgical, when she planted a bomb near his parking space. According to Trutt, it was Mary Lou Sapone who first suggested the idea of murdering Hirsch. When it was later revealed that Sapone was hired by Hirsch to infiltrate the animal rights movement, it became clear that Trutt had been entrapped by U.S. Surgical in their effort to discredit the animal rights activists who objected to the company's practices. The series contains, too, information about the legal case between U.S. Surgical and Julie Lewin.
Series 2 contains information gathered by Lewin before, during, and after the time that the Fund for Animals filed a complaint against the Connecticut Humane Society. The Fund wanted the Connecticut Humane Society to be considered a public agency both because of its size and its law enforcement privileges. The series contains essential background information about the Humane Society's programs, fundraising activities, law enforcement cases, facility inspections, policies, and copies of early CHS records.
The bulk of Series 3 consists of material that connects puppy mills with pet stores, including the unethical practice of purchasing animals from shelters or pet stores, the practice of stealing pets to sell to research facilities, and issues surrounding the unregulated transport by breeders of animals to be sold in Connecticut pet stores. Among other materials in the series are facility inspection information, U.S. Agricultural Department news on animal transportation and facilities, and background information on breeders and pet stores. Other parts of this series touch on a variety of animal welfare issues from balloons to fairs to zoos.
Even though this series does not provide extensive details about Lewin's education and professional activities, it does include some of her published articles, articles written about her and her work, and materials relating to her campaign for State Representative. Also of significance are the materials she has used to train others as activists, which reveal the underlying thoughts and principles upon which she has based her own success both as an activist and as a lobbyist.
Acquired from Julie Lewin in January 2006.
Processed by Jen Ditkoff, 2007.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection: Julie Lewin Papers (MS 454). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.