Matthew Cole

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Matthew Cole, Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University in the UK, and his colleague Dr. Kate Stewart, Principal Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham University in the UK, received a grant to digitize, transcribe, edit, and analyze the unpublished personal archive of Donald Watson, co-founder of The Vegan Society in 1944. Matthew writes:

Watson’s personal archive comprises several hundred letters and other documents, including observations on the history, progress and future of veganism in correspondence with and from other key figures in the vegan movement and Watson’s siblings. It also includes unpublished photographs, a handwritten ‘nature diary’ from 1929 which includes many reflections on animals, arguments against animal exploitation, and so on, variant drafts of published articles for The Vegan magazine and elsewhere, and letters to Donald Watson’s local newspaper. We already have agreed access to the archive from Donald Watson’s heir and his support for this project, including digitisation and publication, and we have already been able to view the archive in person, so we are aware of its extent and significance. Hard copies of the diverse published writings of Donald Watson are also already in our possession. These largely comprise The Vegan magazine during Watson’s tenure as editor in the 1940s, early pamphlets published by the Society, and later articles and interviews he contributed to The Vegan (notably in the late 1980s and early 2000s). Many of these publications are difficult to access and have never been compiled together.

Through receiving the 2018 grant from CAF, Matthew and his collaborator Kate were able to secure two additional grants from the Open University to continue their work transcribing documents, cleaning up data, making the archive available online, and publishing an edited collection of Donald Watson’s published and unpublished work from the archive. You can watch a lecture in August 2020 by Matthew and Kate on this project.

Outside of CAF, Matthew has contributed a co-written chapter (with Kate) titled “(Mis)representing Veganism in Film and Television” for The Routledge Handbook of Vegan Studies (2021).

Most recently, Matthew and Kate were interviewed in December 2022 for the Martin’s Act of 200 audio documentary. They were featured in “Episode 4: Dogs and Monsters”, where they discussed some of the findings from the Donald Watson archives with host Alex Lockwood. Some of the main points of the discussion had to do with the reasons for Watson helping create the Vegan Society, and the time in which the Society was created, which was right around World War II. Additionally, some segments of the interview are rare audio recordings of Donald himself, found in the archives by Matthew and Kate.