Animal Contributions to Radiation Research

About the Archive

Welcome to the Animal Contributions to Radiation Research Archive. Here you will find experiments from the 1940s and 1950s focused on different types of radiation or radioactive substances that used common domesticated house-hold animals, or in other words house hold pets, for their research.  That includes(so far) dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, rats, and mice. 

The purpose of this archive is to offer up one aspect of radiation history. This is a place in which there are more than just the commonly seen experiments on rats and mice. Instead, this contains many household animals that you wouldn't think about as being used in experiments. The archive's aim to provide access to one narrative of radiation research and what different animals have contributed to the research. 

These materials were all found in the Digital Public Library of America(DPLA) but the vast majority were provided to the DPLA by the University of Michigan. These materials were selected by limiting the time period on the DPLA search and searching up each animal individually and seeing what came up about radiation. 

In order to navigate to the materials, you have a choice. You can either scroll through the timeline(located on the right) which contains all of the works in this archive. Or you can choose to look at the elements on pages separated by animals(links to these pages are also to the right).

Timeline of the Lab Reports

Highlights of the Archive

A lack of photos?

As you peruse the archive, you might notice that there is a distinct lack of photos present. And that is because when searching through the DPLA I found photos of animals very hard to find. But that raises the question of whether or not people would have permitted animal experiments if they were shown actual images of animals in cages. Would people have protested against animal experiments sooner had they been able to draw up an image of it in their minds? 

Above, is an image from a protest against laboratory experiments on animals in 1980. It displays the image of a dog in a cage, alone and starved. The use of imagery contrasted in these protested contrasted with the completely lack of imagery inside of the lab experiments gives an interesting commentary on the what causes a group of people to change their minds about a certain normalized practice. 

A Phantom Dog?

Now, Its hard to ignore the title of "X-ray depth dose measurements in a phantom dog". There is just one phase that really sticks out. And it's not depth dose. No, the phrasing that sticks out is 'phantom dog'. 

Despite what you might think, this does not refer to a ghost of a dog-which is just a slight disappointment. And it is not, as google might have you believe, an experiment on the black dogs of British folklore. 

No shockingly, phantom dog appears to refer to dogs that are predominantly one color but has tips of a different color. Which raises another couple of questions. Why does it make sense to do an experiment on dogs by color? Are they genetically different from other dogs? Do they have a different reaction to radiation? 

Keep these questions in mind as you peruse "X-ray depth dose measurements in a phantom dog".

―This archival exhibit was created by Aislin Black in Literature and Digital Diversity, fall 2017.