Classic Hate Mail to General Motors—Featuring Pig Crash-Test Dummies

More

A letter so mean it ended up in the hands of the FBI documents a controversial chapter in the history of product design

GMcartoon.jpg

Illustration sent to General Motors as part of hate mail protesting use of pigs in crash tests. FBI


The FBI's new database The Vault—"more than 2,000 documents that have been scanned from paper into digital copies so you can read them in the comfort of your home or office"—has proven to be a treasure trove of unexpected finds, from details about the possessions found on the Notorious B.I.G. when he died to the organization's UFO files. Also among the declassified documents: animal rights-related hate mail sent to General Motors Corporation in 1991 and submitted to the Detroit bureau of the FBI because, according to the FBI, they were "viewed by GMC Personnel as being of a somewhat threatening nature."

To be sure, GM's practices at the time represent a dark chapter in the history of automobile R & D. In September of that year, The New York Times reported that a GM spokesman admitted that about 19,000 dogs, rabbits, pigs, ferrets, rats, and mice had been killed during the previous decade in automobile safety tests. Following pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other activist groups, the company put an end to its animal testing. And thanks to the FBI's The Vault, we have a much more detailed sense of what that pressure looked like.

Here's one of the letters GM received; the full declassified FBI file, including the illustration that appears above, is available here.

FBI pig test letter

Jump to comments
Presented by

Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In