Daily Archives: October 2, 2012

Writing A Disability History of the US: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach


by  Kim E. Nielsen, author of A Disability History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2012)

A Disability History of the United States has been both the hardest and most exciting intellectual project in which I’ve engaged. Disability history is labor history. It is gender history, immigration history, education, class and political history. It is central to the American narrative but has thus far remained largely unacknowledged.

I fumbled my way into disability history by accident over a decade ago when I ran across a political speech of Helen Keller’s.  Doing so transformed my basic understandings of U.S. history—making me a better teacher, scholar, and historian.

My hope for this book is that it will provide new directions from which to examine the difficult questions about the American past. Which peoples and which bodies have been considered fit and appropriate for public life and active citizenship? How have people with disabilities forged their own lives, their own communities, and shaped the United States? How has disability affected law, policy, economics, play, national identity, and daily life? In what ways has disability woven together with race, class, gender, and sexuality Continue reading

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