Title:                            Heifer Project


Series:                          4/1/6


Boxes:             3 boxes (1 records center carton and 2 Hollinger boxes)


History:           During the Spanish Civil War, Brethren peace activist Dan West (1893-1971) went to serve as a relief worker in Spain during 1937 and1938 with the American Friends Service Committee.  He witnessed such extreme poverty and displacement that relief supplies, including powdered milk, were insufficient to assuage the people’s suffering.   Upon returning to his home in Northern Indiana, he proposed that his rural neighbors raise and ship dairy cattle to Spain in order to provide a sustainable source of milk, particularly for hungry children.  The Indiana group formed the “Heifers for Relief” committee and several northern Indiana families began raising calves for the project.  In 1942, the committee gained official recognition as a ministry of the Northern Indiana Brethren Men’s Group and later that year was approved as a program of the Brethren Service Committee (BSC).  Unfortunately World War II prevented heifer shipments to Europe, so the first animals were placed in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and southern US states.  After World War II, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) agreed to provide cattle transportation if the BSC would provide personnel to care for the animals en route.  The attendants became known as “sea-going cowboys.”       

            In 1948, Benjamin Bushong was chosen as the first executive secretary of Heifer Project.  Almost from the beginning, Heifer Project was an ecumenical committee that received support from a variety of denominations and agencies, although the BSC remained a primary supporter of the project.  In 1953, Heifer Project incorporated as an independent non-profit agency.  Heifer Project, Inc. (HPI) expanded shipments to include a variety of different animals, including goats, sheep, swine, poultry, rabbits, water buffalo, and bees.  They also began sending animals to countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, eventually working in 105 different countries.  They also were associated with the Peace Corps during the 1960s.  In 1971, Heifer Project established a permanent International Livestock Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.  

            The emphasis within the Heifer Project organization has focused on distributing livestock on the basis of need without regard to race creed, or politics, and with the requirement that the family or organization that receives the gift will pass on the first-born offspring to another family in need.

            For more on the Heifer Project, see The Brethren Encyclopedia, pp. 593-594 and J. Kenneth Kreider, A Cup of Cold Water:  The Story of Brethren Service (Elgin:  Brethren Press, 2001), 131-149.


Description of the Records:  These Brethren Service Commission records include agendas and minutes, correspondence, project ideas and reports, publicity, and information on sea-going cowboys from 1945-1961.  The materials relate to Heifer Project both as a program of BSC as well as an independent agency.  Much of the material relates to the ongoing relationship between BSC and HPI, particularly because BSC appointed at least one board member to serve on the HPI board of directors from 1954-1963. The mailing lists in Box 3 provide the most extensive listing of seagoing cowboys in the BHLA collection.


Provenance:     2009.040.  These records were transferred to BHLA at an unknown date.


Restrictions:    None


Separations:     A set of newsletters entitled “The Atlantic Daily” produced by the Sea-going

Cowboys were added to the newsletter collection.  A document entitled “A Seagoing Cowboy in

Italy” by Byron P. Royer was placed in the Temporary Files as 18/ Byron P. Royer Papers. 


Processor:        Denise D. Kettering    August 10, 2009


Container List:


                                 Agendas & Minutes

Box 1 Folder 1         1945-1953

                      2         1946 Executive Committee Minutes

                      3         1953-1961 Heifer Project, Inc.

                      4         1954-1959 HPI Board of Directors

                      5         1961 HPI Board of Directors

                      6         1962-1963 HPI Board of Directors

                      7         1962-1963 HPI Board of Directors

                      8         1962-1963 Heifer Project, Inc.



                      9         1945-1946

                    10         1947

                    11         1948-1953

                    12         1954-1958

                    13         1959-1960

                    14         1961 HPI Sub-Committee on Relationships with Other Agencies

                    15         1962


                                 HPI-BSC Relationship

                    16         1953-1954 Incorporation

                    17         1958 Policies

                    18         1958-1960 Finances



                    19         1945-1953 Project Committee Reports

                    20         1954-1961 Project Committee Reports

                    21         1960 Project Planning

Box 2 Folder 1         Germany—Heifers and Goats 1947-1956

                      2         Italy (Carrara) 1946-1948

                      3         Japan 1947-1959

                      4         Poland 1948-1949

                      5         Russia—Heifers 1956

                      6         Sicily Accident 1947



                      7         Clippings & Releases 1

                      8         Clippings & Releases 2

                      9         Clippings & Releases 3

                    10         Clippings & Releases 4

Box 3 Folder 1         Heifer Letters

                      2         HPI Newsletters

                      3         Historical Information


                                 Seagoing Cowboys

                      4         Mailing List 1

                      5         Mailing List 2

                      6         Mailing List Supplement