The 90th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, held in October 2021, focused on the theme “Justice and Rights in the Mid-Atlantic” and included a panel on disability history. The panel, entitled “Reframing Struggles for Rights and Justice: Research and Resources in Pennsylvania Disability History,” featured Dennis Downey, Millersville University; Sierra Green, Heinz History Center; and Tyler Stump, Pennsylvania State Archives. Nathan Stenberg of the University of Minnesota moderated the panel. Conference attendees includes professors, students, archivists, librarians, museum professionals, and other researchers with an interest in Pennsylvania history.
Sierra Green’s remarks focused on Heinz History Center’s collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium to identify, document and share the disability history of the region. Green also highlighted the research opportunities that abound within the collections that have been preserved through this partnership. Green’s presentation slides are available here.
Dennis Downey’s presentation, “From Segregation to Disability Rights: Pennsylvania Disability History in Historical Context,” concerned the history of institutionalization of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, current policy issues, and the advocacy for positive change. Downey is co-editor of Pennhurst and the Struggle for Disability Rights.
Tyler Stump’s presentation, “Disability History Mother Lode: Records of Institutionalization at the Pennsylvania State Archives,” detailed the scope and types of records that are open for research and how to access them. Stump’s presentation slides are available here.
All three presentations will be included in the Summer 2022 edition of Pennsylvania History, which will be devoted to disability history.