Morgan Dennis was an American artist who is most well-known for his illustrations for the Be Kind to Animals Week® campaign during the 1930s. Dennis' posters can be seen on the online exhibit "Be Kind: A Visual History of Humane Education, 1880-1945," which was created by the National Museum of Animals & Society. The exhibit's background page details how those fighting for animal rights at the time believed humane education was linked to the reduction of other immoral and criminal actions.

Proponents of Humane Education in the late 19th century frequently argued that it would greatly decrease crime and fix social problems. The preface to A Mother’s Lessons on Kindness to Animals, for example, notes that “habits of cruelty in the young, if not checked in time, are very dangerous, and lead to many other sins. They harden the heart against every right and proper feeling. Children who are cruel to animals will soon be cruel to their parents, brothers, and sisters; as every act of cruelty increases the will and the power to repeat it, until it becomes a rooted and settled principle…” In other words, the reach of Humane Education was thought to extend in to several areas of modern life. Because of this, strong connections existed between the Humane Education movement and other social movements. For example, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and advocates for Humane Education often found common ground. Further, many of the leaders of the Humane Education movement felt moved to correct injustices they saw in the world in a broad sense. George T. Angell, founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the American Humane Education Society (AHES), was determined to “plead for the wronged and oppressed, whether they walked on two legs or four.”

Check out several of the exhibition's posters below.

1935 Be Kind to Animals Week® poster featuring the artwork of Morgan Dennis. Credit: Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society

1934 Be Kind to Animals Week® poster featuring the artwork of Morgan Dennis. Credit: Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society

1932 Be Kind to Animals Week® poster featuring the artwork of Morgan Dennis. Credit: Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society

1936 Be Kind to Animals Week® poster featuring the artwork of Morgan Dennis. Credit: Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society

1938 Be Kind to Animals Week® poster featuring the artwork of Morgan Dennis. Credit: Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society

(H/T Slate)

Feature image via Collection of Robert Penney/National Museum of Animals & Society