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OSU Disability Archives: OSU DisArchives

The OSU DisArchives are a community-created archival project seeking to preserve and share the stories of disabled people with connections to the OSU and Corvallis communities.

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This LibGuide is a work in progress. You can help improve its features and content by providing feedback!

Location Information

The OSU Disability Archives are part of the Oregon State University Libraries - Special Collections and Archives Research Center, located on the 5th floor of The Valley Library.

Due to COVID-19, we are offering limited and adapted services. Please see the SCARC COVID-19 information website for more information.

For general questions or support, see the contact information below.

Contact Information

Natalia Fernández, Associate Professor, Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, OSU Libraries and Press: Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Pronouns: she/her/hers

natalia.fernandez@oregonstate.edu

Lzz Johnk, PhD Candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Graduate Minor in Queer Studies

Pronouns: they/them/their/themself

johnkel@oregonstate.edu

Welcome to the OSU Disability Archives!

The OSU Disability Archives features text with its name in black typeface next to a line drawing of a purple archival box with a white wheelchair logo on the front.

Mission Statement

The mission of the OSU Disability Archives (DisArchives) is to preserve and share the stories, histories, and experiences of disabled people with connections to the OSU and Corvallis communities. The OSU Disability Archives is a community-based archival project established in Fall 2020.

How to Use This Guide

This guide provides an overview of the materials housed within the Disability Archives, as well as resources for teaching and research related to disability in the archives. Use the tabs at the top of the screen to explore our various collections, which include both physical and digital materials. Check out the video below for a short visual tour of this LibGuide.

Please note that the collections in the DisArchives are not exhaustive but represent a growing compilation of materials related to the histories of disabled people with connections to OSU and Corvallis. Part of the challenge of compiling existing records and other materials for access through the DisArchives is related to language: because language and terminology changes over time, the presence of disabled people and our histories is not always apparent. For instance, a search for the term "disability" in our collections returns a small number of materials. This doesn't mean that disability and disabled people are not present in the archives, but rather that shifts in terminology can make relevant materials harder to find. One way researchers can expand the range of relevant materials is by searching for a variety of terms within OSU's special collections and archives. For example, searching for "handicap" returns more materials, especially from the 20th century when that term was more ubiquitous; specific terms like "deaf" and "blind" can locate materials which otherwise do not mention terms like "disability."

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Don't see what you're looking for here? Feel free to contact us for assistance! We are also actively seeking suggestions on how we can grow our collection; please see the "Contribute to the DisArchives" tab for more information on how to get involved.

If there are any materials that are only available in the physical archives, you are welcome to come to the Valley Library 5th Floor Reading Room to request to view the materials you need; check out these helpful pages regarding our facilities and FAQs. Please note that during the 2020-2021 academic year, our operations and services differ due to the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances; please see our COVID-19 References and Research Services website for more information.

Project Background

The OSU Disability Archives began as the "Documenting the Stories of Disabled People Project," under the direction of SCARC interim director Natalia Fernández assisted by PhD candidate Lzz Johnk in Fall 2020. Lzz became acquainted with the Special Collections and Archives Research Center during a class visit to the OSU Queer Archives with their "Introduction to Queer Studies" students in Winter 2019. The impressive array of materials and information in the Queer Archives sparked Lzz's curiosity about the archival presence of other marginalized communities, and their doctoral concentration in disability studies prompted them to wonder what disability-related materials might exist within the OSU archives. Lzz approached Natalia in Winter 2020 about the possibility of starting a "disability archive." 

Many OSU and Corvallis community members have recognized the necessity of starting a disability archive for our institution, including OSU's Equal Opportunity and Access (EOA) and Disability Access Services (DAS) staff; members of the OSU Disability Studies Network; faculty within Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and programs; and members of the Corvallis Disability Equity Center. Recognizing that many individuals and groups have contributed to this project's momentum, the Disability Archives are a community-based effort that belong to all disabled people at OSU and in Corvallis. 

"Disability" is often used as an umbrella term encompassing a huge variety of disabled identities, positionalities, and embodiments, including people who identify as Deaf, hard-of-hearing (HOH), blind, low vision, crip, chronically ill, autistic, Mad, neurodivergent, neuroqueer, mentally ill, c/s/x, people with IDDs, and so on. Our hope for the DisArchives is to document and share the stories of a diversity of disabled individuals and communities in all the ways that we identify. Given ongoing institutional histories of marginalization of racialized people at OSU and in Corvallis, we also aim for the DisArchives to prioritize the sharing and documentation of multiply marginalized disabled people's experiences, including those of Black, Brown, and Indigenous disabled people.

It seems apt that this project is getting off the ground in the middle of a global pandemic that has highlighted both the presence and the precarity of disabled people in our communities. Even as disability studies scholar-activists encourage us to slow down, many of us are feeling a sense of urgency to preserve, share, and learn from the stories of disabled communities. The DisArchives are one path to documenting disabled experiences, including during these times that are especially difficult for disabled communities.

About SCARC

The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) maintains and makes available the University's unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs, and books. Subject strengths include:

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center public service point is located in the Reading Room on the 5th Floor of the Valley Library at Oregon State University. If you plan to visit us, please check our calendar.

See our Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center for more on how to visit SCARC, find our collections, and research tips.

SCARC Services During COVID-19

To contribute to a safer and healthy community for OSU faculty, staff, and students, as well as the greater Corvallis community, the Special Collections and Archives Research Center will be open by appointment only until further notice.

SCARC staff are committed to mitigating the risks associated with on-site collection consultations through a quarantine period of research materials before and after each appointment, disinfection of surfaces and high-touch points, wearing face coverings, and appropriate physical distancing.

We miss seeing you in our reading room, and while SCARC’s on-site public services are limited at this time, remote reference inquiries are being addressed to the best of our ability. There is a wealth of online content in Oregon Digital, on the SCARC website, in ScholarsArchive@OSU, in SCARC LibGuides, and on OSU MediaSpace, and public services staff are available to assist you in navigating and searching these sites.

See our COVID Services guide for information about our services during the COVID-19 pandemic.