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Natalia Fernández, Associate Professor, OSU Libraries and Press: Special Collections and Archives Research Center
The OSU DisArchives serve as a resource to share the stories of disabled people with connections to the OSU and Corvallis communities. The OSU Disability Archives was established as community-based archival project in the 2020-2021 academic year.
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 the video was made in 2021 and various minor edits to the guide have been made).
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."
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 the Guide to SCARC, especially the Reference and Research Services page.
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" to serve as a resource for sharing the stories of the local disabled communities.
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 the Philosophy and Psychology departments, as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Queer Studies 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.
Lzz Johnk, PhD Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Graduate Minor in Queer Studies; Pronouns: they/them/their/themself; OSU DisArchives Co-Founder 2020-2021
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:
We acknowledge that materials in SCARC collections and the language that describes them may be harmful. We are actively working to address our descriptive practices; for more information please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement.
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.
In order to provide more efficient and effective service, the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) is offering on-site access to our collections by-appointment. Advance notice of your visit and research interests allows us to better assist you in identifying materials relevant to your research, and provide more efficient service during your on-site visit. A by-appointment model also allows us to limit Reading Room disruptions, and focus on you and on your research needs.
We will continue to respond to general and reference questions remotely via our department email, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. In some cases, by working closely with our archivists and librarians, and identifying a limited amount of specific materials, we may be able to support your research remotely through digitization.
Please see our Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center for more information about our by-appointment model, and other services.