Disability Social History Project

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

A groundbreaking summer camp galvanizes a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality. This film was nominated for an Oscar in 2021. (See Crip Camp on Netflix or Crip Camp on YouTube)

Intersectional Disability Resources

A great list of resources on intersectional disability - nonfiction, anthologies, websites, and podcasts - prepared by Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project and posted on Reclamation Press.

Black Disability History:

The Overlooked History of Black Disabled People, by Vilissa Thompson

Black disability history matters because without us putting our voices and very bodies on the line, the political and societal strides many of us take for granted would not have occurred.Book cover: Black Disabled Ancestors

Black Disabled Ancestors: A new book by Leroy F. Moore Jr.

"We say that our ancestors are resting in peace but I argue that our Black Disabled Ancestors can’t rest in peace because their stories are incomplete and have a lot to teach us today. Black disabled people have ancestors who left knowledge, art, music, culture, politics and a lot of pain for us to pick up, build on, and to tell the harsh truth."

The Tragic Story of America’s First Black Music Star

Thomas Wiggins, an African-American musician marketed as ‘Blind Tom’, had a lucrative career—but saw none of the profits himself.

504 Protest and the Black Panther Party

See the May 7, 1977 edition of the Black Panther Party newspaper that describes the 504 protests and the support the Party provided.

Black Deaf Americans: History, Culture, and Education

The University of Oregon's Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has an exhibit focusing on Black Deaf Americans. Black Deaf people have one of the most unique cultures in the world. The Black Deaf Community is largely shaped by two cultures and communities: Deaf and African-American.

Black Disability History Twitter Chat - February 28, 2018

Vilissa K. Thompson, Imani Barbarin and Neal Carter are co-hosting a Twitter chat on Black disability history. The Disability Visibility Project® will be playing a supporting role in this chat. All are welcome to participate, in particular Black disabled people and disabled people of color. Details

The History of Deaf Printers

Starting in the mid 1800s and for well over a century, a large number of Deaf people were employed in the printing industry because they could tolerate the high level of noise produced by printing machines.

Disability History/Archives Consortium

DHAC's newsletter (Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2019) is available online.

Kenny Fries Reading Tour

During September-November 2017, Poet and Author Kenny Fries toured and read from his new books — In the Province of the Gods and In the Gardens of Japan. "Kenny Fries’ newest memoir, In the Province of the Gods (University of Wisconsin Press, September 2107), is an achingly beautiful and intricately-woven personal narrative. It is, also, a book of active and insistent interrogation—a book that engages the very notion of uncertainty even as it seeks to answer its author’s evolving and increasingly urgent questions." – Julia Bouwsma

Also, see a recent article by Fries in the New York Times: The Nazis’ First Victims Were the Disabled, 13 September 2017.

Interesting Stuff on the Web

Code of the Freaks

Support this film in production: In an unprecedented look inside the disabled community, Code of the Freaks gives the mic to some of Hollywood’s most incensed and ignored critics.

The Robert Bogdan Disability Collection

(January 2018) Yale University’s Medical Historical Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of an important collection of ephemera, photographs, and rare books related to disability, the Robert Bogdan Disability Collection.

Fred's Head from APH

On Thursdays, this blog from American Printing House cites an event in blind history. For example, Perkins Details a Catastrophic Event from 1917 that Changed the Treatment of Blindness and An Early Math Aid.

New Book: The Fearless Benjamin Lay

Rediker, Marcus. The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017
The little-known story of an eighteenth-century Quaker dwarf who fiercely attacked slavery and imagined a new, more humane way of life.

Media and Disability

A Deaf Journalist in Nigeria Fights to Advance Disability Rights: Julius Shemang, a journalist and the Chairman of the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities Kaduna State, has been at the forefront of the call for a disability rights law in Nigeria, Medium,September 15, 2016

Amina Azimi — Raising the Voices of the Disabled in Afghanistan: A disabled journalist advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. Medium, March 25, 2016

The Long Road to a Brighter Future: Can news and information pave the way to a better life for people with disabilities in China?, Medium, September 16, 2015

Information is Critical for People with Disabilities: Disabled Somalis fight to get their voices heard in a country fraught with challenges, Medium, March 19, 2015

Black Disability History 2016

From Lead on Network, for Black History month: profiles of Black disability history activists, including Anita Cameron, Social Justice and Social Change Activist.

A Look Back: The People’s Sidewalks

Designing Berkeley’s Wheelchair Route, 1970-1974, Boom, Spring 2012, Vol. 2, No. 1

Telethons Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity

Published posthumously in January 2016, a new book by Paul Longmore - Telethons: Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity. Provides the first cultural history of a fundraising form that became a fixture in American life, marshalling two decades' worth of painstaking research. Investigates familiar staples of the telethon such as "poster children," the comedic emcee, and the concept of "conspicuous contribution." Serves as a chronicle of disability history in the postwar US, charting the changing depiction of the disabled from objects of pity in the Fifties and Sixties to figures of empowerment in the late twentieth century.

Little Known Black History Fact: Elizabeth Suggs, Early 20th Century Author with Brittle Bones Disorder (1876 – 1908)

From what little is known about her, Eliza was the youngest of her siblings, and was born to former slaves who lived in Bureau County, Illinois near the town of Providence. It was discovered that she had brittle bones four months after her birth, when she experienced her first series of fractures. Eliza seemed to have had a more severe form of OI, and her bones would break from the slightest movements.
More information: Ramp Your Voice - The Life of Eliza Suggs

Patient No More

People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights

The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability invites you to discover a remarkable, overlooked moment in U.S. history when people with disabilities occupied a government building to demand their rights. Known as the “Section 504 Sit-In,” the protest profoundly changed the lives of people with and without disabilities, and paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. (Explore the exhibit)

Nazi disabled victims memorial unveiled in Berlin

From the BBC, September 2, 2014:

A glass monument has been publicly opened in Berlin to 300,000 victims of the Nazis with mental and physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.

The 24m-long (80ft) blue, glass wall is in front of the Berlin Philharmonie building, where the office housing the Nazi "euthanasia" programme once stood.

It is the fourth monument in the German capital to victims of the Nazis.

In the past 10 years, memorials have been erected to Jewish, Roma (Gypsy) and gay victims. (Read more)

The dwarves of Auschwitz

From the March 22, 2013 edition of The Guardian, a story of a family of dwarves snatched from the gas chamber by Josef Mengele.

The Olimpias Performance Research Projects

The Olimpias is an artists' collective and a performance research series. The artists explore art/life, cross-genre participatory practices, arts for social change and disability culture work.

Disability History Images on Flickr:

  • Blind man hearing light ( Nationaal Archief)
  • Piano for the bedridden ( Nationaal Archief)
  • Images from William H. Johnson who was an African-American printmaker who experienced mental illness and was institutionalized for the last twentythree years of his life. (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Harri Bach, Bodedern” - a photograph by John Thomas, c1875, depicting a bearded man using a crutch or cane and a “peg-leg” prosthesis, posted next to a donkey cart in the street. (National Library of Wales)

H-Madness is intended as a resource for scholars interested in the history of madness, mental illness and their treatment (including the history of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and clinical psychology and social work).  

It's Our Story – a national initiative to make disability history public and accessible – over 1,000 video interviews from disability leaders across the country.

Polio Oral History Project - the American West Center at the University of Utah is developing an oral history record of Polio survivors and clinicians who treated Polio.

Disability History Week Campaign - from YO! Youth Organizing Disabled and Proud

Listen to Ever Lee Hairston's speech at the conference of the National Federation of the Blind of California in October 2009

My Whole Expanse I Cannot See… – the blog of Michael Phillips, a writer from Tampa, FL. who doesn’t walk nor breathe without the assistance of machines.

Books and Articles on Disability History

VanHole, Nick. “Shared Consciousness: A Social History of Tourette Syndrome and its Treatments.” University of Montana, 2012. (Download a PDF of the thesis) - This original history tracks how the shared public circumstances and treatment choices of people with tics and Tourette syndrome have changed over time and draws historical significance from the increasing practice of complementary and alternative therapies in recent years.

Marcus, Neil. Special Effects: Advances in Neurology
More than a document of the early days of the disability rights movement, Neil Marcus' collection Special Effects: Advances in Neurology is also a window into California zine culture of the 1980s. Art in revolution: social justice, the human growth movement, art in the everyday. From flourishing dystopia to speech storms, Neil documents living artfully in Berkeley, California, and in Disability Country. Publication Studio is proud to present this collection of reprinted documents with a new forward by Melanie Yergeau and an interview by Esther Ehrlich.

Book cover: Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media, by Beth A. Haller, Ph.D.Haller, Beth. Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media. Advocado Press, 2010.


Disabled Women: Visions and Voices from the 4th World Conference on Women

Disability Projects on the Web

Education for Disability and Gender Equity, a high school curriculum incorporating disability and gender issues into humanities and science

THE CHAIR: Holocaust Memorial to Disabled People

"With our hearts let us see, with your hands let us break every chain. Then, indeed, shall we know a better and nobler humanity."
- Helen Keller

"Disability is not a 'brave struggle' or 'courage in the face of adversity'... disability is an art. It's an ingenious way to live."
- Neil Marcus


Disabled Women on the Web
Visit our "sister" site: Disabled Women on the Web