In the late-nineteenth century, French physiologist Claude Bernard argued that scientific progress required experimentation on living animals, also known as vivisection. Regarded as the father of experimental physiology, Bernard helped make animal experimentation—a practice dating back to the ancient world—central to research around the world. But he also inspired prominent objectors who gradually banded together to form the antivivisectionist movement.

In the United States, battles between scientists and antivivisectionists emerged in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Philadelphia during the first decades of the twentieth century. Vivisection’s opponents adopted various tactics, including hiding animals and publicly criticizing scientists, and later, they turned to legislative solutions. One early bill, introduced to the United States Congress in 1919, threatened to end experimentation on dogs entirely.

Anton Julius Carlson, a young professor of physiology at the University of Chicago offered key testimony against the bill and emerged as a vigorous public defender of animal experimentation. Spurred on by colleagues in other states, Carlson became convinced that defeating the antivivisectionists required scientists to organize themselves.

Postcard, 1923

The Illinois Society for Medical Research Records

Ernest Harold Baynes was one of the most prominent early proponents of animal experimentation in the United States. Originally an antivivisectionist, he helped popularize the doctors’ side of the debates after observing animal research firsthand. Here, he appears on the University of Chicago campus with Buster, a laboratory dog involved in gastric juice experiments.