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This volume opens up disability's hidden history. In these pages, a North Carolina Youth finds his identity as a deaf Southerner challenged in Civil War-era New York. Deaf community leaders ardently defend sign language in early 20th century America. The mythic Helen Keller and the long-forgotten American Blind People's higher Education and General Improvement Association each struggle to shape public and private roles for blind Americans. White and black disabled World War I and II veterans contest public policies and cultural values to claim their citizenship rights. Neurasthenic Alice James and injured turn-of-the-century railroadmen grapple with the interplay of disability and gender. Progressive-era rehabilitationists fashion programs to make crippled children economically productive and socially valid, and two Depression-era fathers murder their sons as public opinion blames the boys' mothers for having cherished the lads' lives. These and many other figures lead readers through hospital-schools, courtrooms, advocacy journals, and beyond to discover disability's past.
Coupling empirical evidence with the interdisciplinary tools and insights of disability studies, the book explores the complex meanings of disability as identity and cultural signifier in American history.
Author Biography: Author of The Invention of George Washington, Paul K. Longmore is Professor of History and Director of the Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University. Associate Professor of History at Suffolk University, Lauri Umansky is the author of Motherhood Reconceived and co-editor, with Molly Ladd Taylor, of "Bad" Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth Century America.
"With this work, Longmore and Umansky offer historians, sociologists and other readers intrigued by this area of scholarship an opportunity to understand disabilities as broader and more complex than a single, generic and primarily medical category."
"Historians of medicine and technology will find this book an interesting introduction to a highly politicized and novel area of scholarship. This work should inspire research projects into more diverse and less categorized areas of disability."
-Technology & Culture,
"The essays introduce into the historical record a diverse group of people whose views and experiences have been largely excluded, challenge conventional notions of bodily integrity, and represent an important new subfield in American history from which we can expect rich and exciting innovation."
"This splendid collection opens up a whole new field. Longmore and Umansky define it, explain why it is urgent for us to know about it, and provide fourteen fine examples of it, ranging all across American history, by as many authors. This is not your father's old-time medical history—it's a broader, brilliant enterprise."
-Walter Nugent,University of Notre Dame
"A cause for celebration. The insights popping off of each page are rich, compelling, and memorable. Taken together, these essays hold as much promise for remaking general understanding of the American past as pathbreaking works in women's history and African-American history. By bringing to center stage the experiences of so many who have been previously ignored or degraded, and by exploring how images of disability color American values and politics through time, this work invites students, scholars, and citizens to understand the world more deeply and more capaciously."
-Martha Minow,Harvard University
|Introduction: Disability History: From the Margins to the Mainstream||1|
|Part I||Uses and Contests|
|1||Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History||33|
|2||"Speech Has an Extraordinary Humanizing Power": Horace Mann and the Problem of Nineteenth-Century American Deaf Education||58|
|3||"This Unnatural and Fratricidal Strife": A Family's Negotiation of the Civil War, Deafness, and Independence||83|
|4||"Trying to Idle": Work and Disability in The Diary of Alice James||107|
|Part II||Redefinitions and Resistance|
|5||A Pupil and a Patient: Hospital-Schools in Progressive America||133|
|6||Cold Charity: Manhood, Brotherhood, and the Transformation of Disability, 1870-1900||157|
|7||The Outlook of The Problem and the Problem with the Outlook: Two Advocacy Journals Reinvent Blind People in Turn-of-the-Century America||187|
|8||Reading between the Signs: Defending Deaf Culture in Early Twentieth-Century America||214|
|9||Medicine, Bureaucracy, and Social Welfare: The Politics of Disability Compensation for American Veterans of World War I||236|
|10||Helen Keller and the Politics of Civic Fitness||268|
|Part III||Images and Identities|
|11||Martyred Mothers and Merciful Fathers: Exploring Disability and Motherhood in the Lives of Jerome Greenfield and Raymond Repouille||293|
|12||Blind and Enlightened: The Contested Origins of the Egalitarian Politics of the Blinded Veterans Association||313|
|13||Seeing the Disabled: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography||335|
|14||American Disability Policy in the Twentieth Century||375|