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OSU Disability Archives: Disability History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center: Potential Research Projects

The OSU DisArchives serve as a resource to share the stories of disabled people with connections to the OSU and Corvallis communities.

Researching Disability in the Archives

The literature on disability in the archives considers both issues of accessibility for disabled researchers in the archives and Photo of a black and white print newspaper article with a headline reading "Disabled OSU students desire access." An accompanying photo shows a student in a wheelchair inside a freight elevator. The photo is taken inside the elevator, behind the student, who is pulling on a rope to lower the elevator door.the presence/absence of disability-related subjects in the archives. The histories of disabled people and other disability-related subjects can be found in many archives, but locating these materials can be challenging due to the ways that language around disability changes over time. Further, disability-related subjects are sometimes obscured by archival categorization systems that may recognize those subjects as "medical-related" but not as "disability-related." You can learn more about these and other challenges to researching disability in the archives by visiting our page "Disability in the Archives: An Introduction."

One way that the OSU Disability Archives seeks to make SCARC materials related to disability more readily accessible and visible is by identifying and consolidating existing collections of records and other OSU materials that discuss disability in a variety of ways. This includes materials that do not explicitly name disability or that use terminology for disability we would consider dated but are nevertheless discussing disability-related subjects. If you have suggestions for existing OSU records that should be listed on our "Collections and Records" page, please let us know!

The image on the right is from a 1984 Barometer article with a headline reading "Disabled OSU students desire access."

Do you have ideas for research projects?

Share your ideas for research projects related to the DisArchives by getting in touch with Natalia Fernández!

Ideas for DisArchives Research Projects

The existing materials in the DisArchives offer an abundance of possibilities for research projects. Below are just a few ideas for potential research topics related to these materials.

  • The history of disability-related student organizations at OSU, including the groups Handicapped Students Unlimited and the Disabled Student Organization (see Disability Access Services, RG 273, Boxes 1-3).
  • The history of disability-related services at OSU, beginning from their inclusion under the Counseling Center to our current Disability Access Services (see RG 273, Boxes 1-3).
  • Disabled student activism and community organizing, such as the protest to have an elevator installed in Waldo Hall (see RG 273, Box 3; Affirmative Action Records, RG 172, Box 2 Folder 19).
  • Disability-related events, such as the Silent Lunches hosted by the Women's Center and Handicapped Awareness Week and Disability Awareness Week put on by disabled student organizers (see RG 273, Boxes 1-3).
  • Administrative projects related to disability, such as the Disabled Student Task Force and the Physically Handicapped in Science project (see RG 273, Boxes 1-2).
  • The history of disability-related language and the presence of sanist/ableist discourse at OSU (see RG 273, Boxes 1-2).
  • The history of disability-related and assistive technologies available at OSU (see RG 273, Boxes 1-3).
  • Representations of disability in OSU radio programs, such as "Family Life Series" (see KOAC Records, 1923-2005).
  • The history of accessibility-related architectural changes to OSU's campus (see Facility Access Services Records, RG 193).