Ed. note: The AKCHO Board presented the 2017 Virginia Marie Folkins Award to Frederick Brown, PhD, for his recent book, published by UW Press, The City Is More Than Human. Here is the Awards Committee’s commendation for Dr. Brown’s work.
Seattle would not exist without animals. Animals have played a vital role in shaping our city from its founding amid existing indigenous towns in the mid-nineteenth century to the livestock-friendly town of the late nineteenth century to the pet-friendly, livestock-averse modern city.
When newcomers first arrived in the 1850s, they assembled cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, and other animals that defined familiar European agriculture. However, just as these animals were used to create a Euro-American city, the elimination of these same animals from Seattle was key to the creation of the new middle-class neighborhoods of the twentieth century. As dogs and cats came to symbolize home and family, Seattleites’ relationship with livestock became distant and exploitative, demonstrating the deep social contradictions that characterize the modern American metropolis.
In The City Is More Than Human, Dr. Frederick Brown explores the relationship humans have with animals. In so doing he challenges us to acknowledge the role of animals of all sorts in the making and remaking of cities.
Dr. Brown holds a PhD in history from the University of Washington and works on a contract basis as a historian for the National Park Service.