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History of Disability
  >>Located in Store(s): Classics and Landmark Resources

This department features classic works in the social and cultural history of disability, in particular those concerning individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Managed by: Jerry Smith (smith495@umn.edu) of RTC, Institute on Community Integration, University of MN

Product Categories
Books, Publications & Reports (printed and/or online) (38 Products)
Electronic Media (25 Products)
Organizations, Programs, and Projects (5 Products)
Online Forums (1 Products)
Other (2 Products)

Books, Publications & Reports (printed and/or online)
"We can't close it yet": How discourse positions people with intellectual disabilities
A journal article that studies how people with intellectual disabilities are viewed in Manitoba, Canada.
A Disability History of the United States
This book covers the entirety of U.S. disability history, from pre-1492 to the present.
A History and Sociology of the Willowbrook State School
This book is about the history of people who lived in the Willowbrook institution.
A History of Mental Retardation: A Quarter Century of Promise
This classic book provides a history of mental retardation: 1960 - 1984.
A New Way of Thinking: More Than Twenty Years Later
This report summarized the challenges of the developmental disability service system in 2007. It was a follow-up to a report done 20 years earlier.
Autism's First Child
This article is about the life of the first man to have been diagnosed with Autism.
Away From the Public Gaze
This is an extensive document that chronicles the history of the Fairview institution in Oregon and the experiences of the residents.
Christmas in Purgatory: A Photographic Essay on Mental Retardation
This book is a classic photo essay of living conditions in institutions. It was first published in 1964 and was a foundational work in reform efforts.
Ed Roberts: Father of Disability Rights
This book is about Ed Robertsí life. It covers his life experiences of living with a disability and his fight for equality for people with disabilities.
Forging a Federal State Partnership
This is a study of the changes in public policy toward persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities over the past fifty years.
Good Blood, Bad Blood: Science, Nature, and the Myth of the Kallikaks
A book that tells the true story of the Kallikak Family.
Honoring Eunice Shriver's Legacy in Intellectual Disability
This journal article highlights the work and influence of Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the field of intellectual disability. Her work spans more than 50 years.
Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in the United States
This book provides a history of services for persons with intellectual disability in the United States.
Living in the Freedom World: Personal Stories of Living in the Community by People Who Once Lived in Oklahoma's Institutions
A group of personal stories from people with disabilities who've left institutions to live in the community.
Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services: The First 20 Years (Policy Research Brief)
This Brief reports on the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver program during its first 20 years, from 1982 through 2002. It is available online in full text.
Mental Health Services for Adults with Intellectual Disability: Strategies and Solutions
This book is about the development of mental health services for people who have intellectual disabilities.
No Pity; People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement
This is a history of the disability rights movement. There is no pity or tragedy in disability--it is society's myths, fears, and stereotypes that make being disabled difficult.
The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Disability Rights Movement
This book provides a general introduction to the many influences on the Disability Rights Movement.
The Autism Rights Movement
An online magazine article about the autism rights movement.
The Community Imperative
This is a classic document that says all people have the right to live in the community. It was written in response to those who opposed the de-institutionalization of people with disabilities.
The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation-Updated Edition
This book chronicles the Disability Rights Movement from the 1930's through 2011. It explores how the movement has changed over time, and how different kinds of disabilities have been brought into the movement's mix.
The Evolution of State Operated Services
A document of the history of public institutions in Minnesota. There are many pictures and stories going back to the 1800s.
The Faces of Intellectual Disability Philosophical Reflections
This book examines the reasons why people with intellectual disabilities have been treated badly over time. It is grounded in philosophy.
The Goode Life: Memoirs of Disability Rights Activist Barb Goode
This is the autobiography of Barb Goode, a self-advocate and leader in the disability rights movement of Canada for more than 35 years.
The Human Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities: Different but Equal
This book reviews the history of the human rights of people with disabilities. It also talks about present times and suggests some future directions.
The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models
Book exploring how institutions have traditionally treated persons with intellectual disabilities.
The Principle of Normalization in Human Services
This book is the seminal work on the principle of normalization, which has shaped the development of human services in the last few decades.
The Ragged Edge: The Disability Experience from the Pages of the First Fifteen Years of the Disability Rag
This is a collection of articles from the first 15 years of The Disability Rag, a radical newspaper for persons with disabilities. It chronicles earlier days of the disability rights movement.
The Self-Advocacy Movement: The Unacknowledged Civil Rights Movement
This research-based book takes a look at the self-advocacy social movement.
The State Boys Rebellion
This book tells the story of the 1957 'uprising' at Fernald School in Massachusetts. It helped end the common practice of forcing people with disabilities to live in institutions.
The State of Disability in America
This report reviewed how people with disabilities were faring in five important life areas. It did a nice job describing how we got to where we are today, and the problems that still exist.
The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
This is a book about old laws that said an "unsightly or disgusting person" shouldn't be seen on the street. Examples included people with disabilities.
The Willowbrook Wars: A decade of struggle for social justice
This book traces the history of reforms and litigation at the infamous Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York from 1972 to 1983.
Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson
This is the true story of Junius Wilson's life, a deaf Black man put into an institution at a young age after being accused of rape.
Walking Isnít Everything
This book was written by a woman who contracted polio in the early 1950s. It describes polio treatment and what it was like to be a woman with a disability in that era.
Want to Preserve Your History Collection?
An article about how people can preserve and archive materials they have saved from the disability rights movement.
What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement
This book is about how people with disabilities fought together to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability
This book presents a collection of essays on how people with disabilities can gain a stronger voice and shape their destinies. It was the winner of the Betts Award from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities.
Electronic Media (Videos, CDs, T.V., Radio, Websites, etc.)
A History of Human Services, Universal Lessons, and Future Implications
This two-day presentation is about the origins and history of services to support people with disabilities. You can watch the entire presentation online as short videos.
Disability & Employment: A Timeline
To celebrate 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, the Department of Labor put together this interactive, online timeline. It shows important events since 1921 that have helped all people with disabilities get jobs.
Disability History Museum
A website with all kinds of information on the history of people with disabilities in America.
Disability Social History Project
An online social history of disability.
Disability: A New History
A BBC radio show that uses new research to present a history of disability from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Ed Roberts Tribute webpage
This webpage is dedicated to the life and work of Ed Roberts. Ed was an early leader in the disability rights movement.
Ed Roberts: His Words, His Vision
This 8 minute video features Ed Roberts, who is said to be the father of the independent living movement. His words are interspersed with images that show the meaning of community inclusion. It is available to watch on Youtube.
El Peecho's Pennhurst Page
This is a website dedicated to the former residents of the Pennhurst State School in Pennsylvania. It includes a good amount of information on Pennhurst, including first-hand accounts of what went on at the institution.
EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America
This website uses pictures and images to show the history of disability in America. It is called a web exhibition and was done by the Smithsonian Museum.
Front Wards, Back Wards
This is a film about the good and bad parts of America's first institution for people with disabilities. Fernald in Massachusetts was created in 1848 and closed in 2014.
It's Our Story
This program is creating an online database that gives people with disabilities a voice. The project will make thousands of videos, written testimonies and photographs from disability activists available online for free.
Judy Heumann: 2010 Medtronics Courage Award Recipient
This 10-minute video is about Judy Heumann, a community organizer who influenced disability policy in the US for the past several decades.
Leadership in the History of the Developmental Disabilities Movement
A multimedia, wiki website on leadership in the history of the developmental disabilities movement.
Lest We Forget: Silent Voices
This video is a collection of stories as told by people with disabilities who lived in state institutions. There are also stories from the families they left behind.
Lives Worth Living
This film is about the Disability Rights Movement.
National Archives' Americans with Disabilities Records
This webpage has U.S. historical documents dating back to the 1920's.
Parallels in Time: A History of Developmental Disabilities
An online presentation about the history of people with developmental disabilities. It uses text, with some pictures and video clips.
The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement website
This website shares information on key leaders in the disability rights and Independent Living movement.
The Disability Rights Movement
This is the online version of an exhibit that appeared at the Smithsonian Institute. It covers the history of the disability rights movement from the 1800s until the year 2000.
The Emancipation Proclamation for the Disabled
This website provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Website visitors will learn about historical events that led up to the act, its impact, and current challenges in applying the ADA today.
The Great Fight for Disability Rights
This DVD is about the history of the disability rights movement in the United States.
The Power of 504
This video tells the story about how Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act become implemented. The fight included a 26-day sit-in for disability civil rights. You can watch it online or purchase a copy.
Unforgotten: Twenty-Five Years After Willowbrook
This film examines the impact of the closure of Willowbrook State School on the residents and their families over the last 25 years. You can watch the entire film for free on YouTube or purchase a DVD copy.
Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization
This documentary film profiles the life of Wolf Wolfensberger. He changed the way people think about services for people with intellectual disabilities.
Where's Molly?
This film chronicles the reunion of Jeff Daly and his sister Molly. Molly was sent to live in an institution at age 3, so they had not seen each other for 47 years. Their story explores the conditions of the institution Molly lived in.
Organizations, Programs, and Projects
Hadamar Memorial
Hadamar Memorial, located in Hadamar, Germany, is a memorial for victims of the Nazi "euthanasia" or extermination project that occured from 1939-1945.
It's Our Story
This program is creating an online database that gives people with disabilities a voice. The project will make thousands of videos, written testimonies and photographs from disability activists available online for free.
Minnesota Survey of Attitudes 1962/2007
In 1964, Minnesota completed a survey of the public on community attitudes about people with developmental disabilities. In 2007, the same survey was repeated. This report tells how community attitudes changed, and how they stayed the same over 43 years.
Museum of disAbility History
Museum in Buffalo, New York with a collection of disability history.
The ADA Legacy Project
This project brings together people who are working to preserve the history of the disability rights movement, celebrate the present, and educate others about disability rights.
Online Forums
El Peecho's Pennhurst Page
This is a website dedicated to the former residents of the Pennhurst State School in Pennsylvania. It includes a good amount of information on Pennhurst, including first-hand accounts of what went on at the institution.
2002 - The Commonwealth of Virginia apologizes for forced sterilizations
This is a piece of Virginia legislation. The Governor apologized for Virginia's sterilizing over 8000 women, only because they had disabilities. Within a year, three more states also apologized.
2010 - Minnesota Apology Bill
This Minnesota state legislation gave people with disabilities an apology for the terrible things that had happened in state institutions.

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This web site is maintained by the Research and Training Center on Community Living with support from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. E-mail weste050@umn.edu.
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