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Animals in the Archives, Part 2

June 14, 2018

Canines have been part of the human experience for quite some time now. They are among the first animals to be domesticated, though there are conflicting ideas about when, where and how this happened. Studies range in time from 10,000 to 30,000 years ago and in location from East Asia to the Middle East to Western Europe. Also in conflict are how canines became domesticated. Some researchers believe that we purposely domesticated them, while others argue that canines domesticated themselves by spending more and more time around campsites foraging for food.

Either way, we’ve developed a symbiotic relationship where we provide food and shelter, and in return, dogs provide companionship and protection.

Unidentified Man from Madison, IN and Retriever, early 1900s

Currently, around  40% of the U.S. population includes a dog in their home. Just like they might with a child, people like to show photographs of their dogs and talk about their dogs. According to a study funded by BarkBox, people post about their dogs on social media at least six times a week. They also found that, in people with dogs, 20% of the photographs they take on a phone are of their dogs.

Lucille Broich and Collie, ca. 1920s

So, it’s no surprise that in the course of my work, I am constantly coming across historic photographs of people and their pups. It seems that we humans have always been fond of documenting and sharing our four-legged family members.

Robert E. McKenna, Madison Post Office Clerk, and Boston Terrier, ca. 1936

Dogs are definitely running rampant in the archives.

Jessica Fischer

Jessica Erin Fischer is a collections assistant at IHS. She loves all things old, all things odd and all things related to animals.

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