What's New in the Collections: Heritage Humane Society Scrapbooks

Posted on January 11, 2019

By Christina Luers - Archives Collections Specialist

The holiday season is a season for gift giving for many. Those gifts sometimes come in the form of a cute four-legged friend. The reality, though, is that the addition of a pet to the family, while wonderfully intended, can sometimes be a huge mistake. Regardless of the reasoning--be it finances, allergies, behavioral issues, or just plain regret for the decision--the time right after the holidays is when many shelters receive a large number of “returns” from the holidays. 

Page from Heritage Humane Society scrapbook (MS 00253), showing the HHS's former title, the Williamsburg Area S.P.C.A.

For Williamsburg, there has been an organization serving the community by taking in unwanted and abandoned pets, and working hard to re-home them in loving and continual care. Special Collections at Swem Library was fortunate enough to recently receive four scrapbooks that document the work and contributions of the Heritage Humane Society (MS 00253) since its founding.

Original signs and logos for the Heritage Humane Society. (MS 00253)

The scrapbooks showcase volunteers and dedicated staff of the Williamsburg community, and their work for the welfare of homeless animals. In 1961, when the shelter began its humble work of saving animals, it was called the Williamsburg Area SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Its founding came about, in part, from a need for more workers and space as the local dog catcher could not keep up with the skyrocketing homeless pet population. In 1993 the shelter’s name changed to the Animal Shelter Association of Williamsburg, and in 1995 the name changed again to the Heritage Humane Society (HHS). Since then, HHS has steadily worked to usher abandoned and homeless pets into permanent homes of loving pet owners.

The scrapbooks shed light on the society's challenges, too, from disgruntled potential pet adopters who wrote in to the local paper, to challenges with increasingly limited space for an increasingly growing homeless pet population. Events like Bark in the Park and the Bark Ball highlight the events sponsored by those who supported their cause. The scrapbooks also document the way the HHS was able to grow and expand the breadth of its mission through incredible efforts of philanthropy, generously given by area residents and businesses. The HHS records in Special Collections serve as an example of how a community can build and expand in an area that benefits both residents and animals, and showcases the philanthropic efforts of an organization whose mission is simply the improvement of its community. This is a collection to celebrate, and the SCRC is fortunate to have the opportunity to preserve this part of our local history.

"HHS Success Stories," newspaper clippings from one of the Heritage Humane Society scrapbooks (MS 00253).

The images in this post highlight the various names and logos assumed by the organization since its creation and illustrate how the organization evolved as it grew in the Williamsburg Community. The Heritage Humane Society is still hard at work in the Williamsburg area, saving animals and providing shelter and care for its homeless pet population. So in this holiday season, whether you celebrate "Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Harvest, or December 25th," if you find this to be a time to add a furry friend to your family, look to shelters like the Heritage Humane Society first, as there are always plenty of pets in need of loving and enduring homes.

"Former shelter now more humane," announcement and newspaper clipping from HHS scrapbook (MS 00253).