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OSU Disability Archives: Archival Repositories on Disability

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.

Archival Repositories on Disability

Below is a partial list of other archival repositories whose holdings include collections related to disability and disabled people. You can make suggestions for additions to this list by sending them to Lzz Johnk.

Content Note: Some of the collections listed below use language and terminology that frame disability in problematic and harmful ways. These are largely repositories that approach the study of disabled people through the medical model of disability, which frames disability as a problem that must be fixed. They are marked below with more specific content notes.

UC Berkeley Bancroft Library

The University of California Berkeley's Bancroft Library houses the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement Project, which includes a variety of primary sources on the social and political history of the disability movement from the 1960s to the present, including personal papers, organizational records, and oral histories. Learn more about the collections here.

University of Toledo: Regional Disability History Archive

University of Toledo's logo, featuring a blue shield with the yellow letters UT.

The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at UT houses the collections of the Regional Disability History Archive: Documenting the Historical Experience of the Disabled in Northwest Ohio. In partnership with the Ability Center of Toledo, UT created a Disability Studies Program in 2001. The purpose of this academic program is to look at disability as a cultural category of analysis from a humanities-based perspective, rather than medical-scientific one. As part of that initiative, the Ward M. Canaday Center, working with the Disability Studies Program and the UT Department of History, sought to collect historical records as a research collection that could be used by students and faculty in the program. The resulting collection became the Regional Disability History Archive. See the Archive's virtual exhibition here.

The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive

The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) is a project to preserve and share the rich history of the UK Disability Arts Movement. The Disability Arts Movement began in the late 1970s and continues today. This movement included a group of disabled people and their allies who broke down barriers, helped change the law with the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, and made culture and art about those struggles.

Visitors can engage some contents in person at the NDACA Wing and Repository at Bucks New University.

Disability Studies at Yale: Special Collections and Archives

Housed in the Yale Library, the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library includes a Disability Studies LibGuide containing references to collections and materials relevant to the study of disability. Examples of collections include the papers of novelist Ved Mehta, the papers of playwright Ron Whyte, and the Robert Bogdan Disability Collection.

University of Leeds: The Disability Archive

The Disability Archive UK is housed by the Centre for Disability Studies at Leeds University in the UK. Established by Professor Colin Barnes, the aim of the Disability Archive is to provide access to the writings of disability activists, writers and allies whose work may no longer be easily accessible in the public domain, especially to disabled people, students and scholars with an interest in Disability Studies and related fields.

Mütter Museum

The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is a museum of medical history featuring anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments. The original collection was donated in 1858 by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia for use in biomedical research.

Content Note: The Mütter Museum presents its specimens and information in a sanist/ableist fashion. Nevertheless, there is an abundance of content that would facilitate analysis of how pathologization and ableism manifest throughout American medical history, including the present.

The Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library housing the collections of pharmacist, entrepreneur, and collector Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome. Wellcome was one of the first medical marketers to sell medicines in tablet form and to direct market to doctors by giving them free samples. The physical museum is located in London and also features virtual exhibits online. If the Collection's statement on anti-Blackness and racism is any indication, the curators have some level of racial and/or anti-racist consciousness. However, the website does not make clear if the same can be said for disability consciousness.

Disability Visibility Project

white text on black background reading "Disability Visibility Project, Recording disability history, one story at a time."

The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture. Founded by disability activist Alice Wong, DisVis works in collaboration with StoryCorps to collect the oral histories of disabled people and communities.

Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability

The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University studies and showcases disabled people's experiences to revolutionize social views. The mission of the Longmore Institute is to share disability history and theory, promote critical thinking, and build a broader community. The Institute on Disability was started by disability historian, activist, and polio survivor Paul K. Longmore in 1996; it was renamed in his honor to the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at his passing in 2010.

Disability History Museum

The Disability Museum History logo, featuring the letters "d m m" with the lines of the "m" overlapping each other.

The Disability History Museum is a virtual project which hosts a library of virtual artifacts, education curricula, and museum exhibits. The Museum seeks to foster study about the historical experiences of people with disabilities and their communities. 

Museum of disABILITY History

The Museum of disABILITY History is a project of the New York-based human services agency People Inc., a non-profit human services agency, which runs group homes for developmentally disabled people. Both People Inc. and the Museum were established by Dr. James M. Boles. The Museum houses materials from asylums, state schools, and other institutions and includes text and visual materials, as well as items of adaptive equipment. 

Content Note: This museum contains sanist/ableist representations and discussions of disability and disability history.

The ADA Legacy Project

The ADA Legacy Project seeks to preserve, celebrate, and educate about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their website contains archived information about ADA25 and other ADA-related events and information.