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Training Schools – And Civilian Public Service (1944)

Article by Stephen Angell in The Reporter, 1944. The Civilian Public Service (CPS) was set up to provide conscientious objectors in the United States an alternative service to military service during World War II. Continue Reading »

A Hard Life (1893)

And now a pitiful yet inspiring story of another unfortunate child comes to us. She was born in Texas, and when fifteen months old had learned only two words — mamma and papa. Then she had a serious illness, by which she lost eyesight and hearing, and was doomed to a life of imprisonment, into which no sound or ray of light could penetrate.Continue Reading »

Sunday School Libraries and Lessons

Written by Laurie Block, Disability History Museum Staff. “At the beginning of the 19th century, many Americans were concerned about the moral education of children. With the constitutional separation of Church and State, many asked: whose job is it to teach values?”Continue Reading »

Life In The Asylum (1855)

The Opal was published by the patients at the New York State Insane Asylum in Utica during the 1850s. It contained comments on current events, literary essays and book reviews, poetry, and descriptions of events at the asylum, including the dramatic and musical productions of the patients themselves.Continue Reading »

Origin Of The Treatment And Training Of Idiots (1856)

The idiot wishes for nothing, he wishes only to remain in his vacuity. To treat successfully this ill will, the physician wills that the idiot should act, and think himself, of himself and finally by himself. The incessant volition of the moral physician urges incessantly the idiot out of his idiocy into the sphere of activity, of thinking, of labor, of duty and of affectionate feelings; such is the moral treatment. The negative will of the idiot being overcome, scope and encouragement being given to his first indications of active volition, the immoral tendencies of this new power being repressed, his mixing with the busy and living word is to be urged on at every opportunity. Continue Reading »

Franklin Pierce’s Veto Is Challenged

William Seward was one of the most powerful statesmen of the 1850s. Under Abraham Lincoln, with whom he vied for the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, he was Secretary of State. In 1854, as a Senator from New York, he was a supporter of the Dorthea Dix bill that passed both the House and Senate. Here he provided his rationale for opposing the veto message given by President Pierce. The effort to override the veto failed.Continue Reading »

Franklin Pierce’s 1854 Veto

The legislation advocated by Dorothea Dix — and passed by the House and Senate — was not unprecedented. At a time when there was no federal income tax, public land represented the largest potential financial resource available to the federal government. Federal lands had already been used to promote the construction of railroads, and there were discussions in 1854 of a homestead act that would provide free land to settlers who were willing to move to the West.Continue Reading »

Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History

Not only has disability justified the inequality of disabled people but of other groups as well. In the three great citizenship debates of the 19th century and early 20th centuries: women’s suffrage, African American freedom, and immigration restriction, disability played a substantive role. Continue Reading »

On The Duties And Advantages Of Affording Instruction To The Deaf And Dumb (1824)

A sermon by Thomas Gallaudet, 1824. Gallaudet saw deaf education in general and sign language in particular as the means by which an evangelical vision could be universalized.Continue Reading »

Committee Of The Connecticut Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of Deaf And Dumb Persons (1817)

The founders of the Connecticut Asylum—like most educators of the deaf during the antebellum years—saw their primary goal as saving the souls of deaf children. This goal reflected the influence of the Second Great Awakening and, in particular, religious reformers’ hope that social reforms would help to bring about the Millennium. This is an Abridged Text of the Report.Continue Reading »

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