Special Collections & University Archives University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Disability (8 collections)
SCUA

Bartels, Elmer C.

Elmer C. Bartels Papers, 1965-2010.
8 boxes (12 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 817

As the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for thirty years, Elmer C. Bartels became a national leader on issues related to vocational rehabilitation and independent living for people with disabilities. While studying physics at Colby College in 1960, Bartels broke his neck in an inter-fraternity hockey game, but returned to complete his degree and then to earn an MS at Tufts. While working as a computer programmer at the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT and later at Honeywell, he became involved in coordinating services and access that members of the community needed to survive. To address the range of issues relating to employment, housing, and architectural barriers for people with disabilities, he helped found three significant organizations: the Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs (1964), the Massachusetts Council of Organizations of the Handicapped (a cross-disability organization created in the late 1960s with Harold Remmes) and the Boston Center for Independent Living (1972). Bartels was a key figure in securing passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, considered the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities. In 1977, Bartels was appointed to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission by Gov. Michael Dukakis, serving under seven successive administrations, leaving an important mark on public policy. Since leaving the MRC, Bartels has remained active as a teacher and advocate for disability issues.

The Bartels Papers are an important resource for study of the early history of disability advocacy and public policy in Massachusetts. The collection includes a wealth of material on the formation and activity of the Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs, the National Paraplegia Foundation, and the Mass Rehabilitation Commission; correspondence with other leading figures in the disability rights movement; and publications relating to legislation on disability issues, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living.

Subjects
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
  • Massaachusetts. Rehabilitation Commission
  • Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs

Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010

Judi Chamberlin Papers, ca.1970-2010.
23 boxes (34.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 768

Judi Chamberlin, 2000
Judi Chamberlin, 2000

A pioneer in the psychiatric survivors’ movement, Judi Chamberlin spent four decades as an activist for the civil rights of mental patients. After several voluntary hospitalizations for depression as a young woman, Chamberlin was involuntarily committed for the only time in 1971, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her experiences in the mental health system galvanized her to take action on patients’ rights, and after attending a meeting of the newly formed Mental Patients’ Liberation Project in New York, she helped found the Mental Patients’ Liberation Front in Cambridge, Mass. Explicitly modeled on civil rights organizations of the time, she became a tireless advocate for the patient’s perspective and for choice in treatment. Her book, On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System (1978), is considered a key text in the intellectual development of the movement. Working internationally, she became an important figure in several other organizations, including the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilition at Boston University, the Ruby Rogers Advocacy Center, the National Disability Rights Network, and the National Empowerment Center. In recognition of her advocacy, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities in 1992, the David J. Vail National Advocacy Award, and the 1995 Pike Prize, which honors those who have given outstanding service to people with disabilities. Chamberlin died of pulmonary disease at home in Arlington, Mass., in January 2010.

An important record of the development of the psychiatric survivors’ movement from its earliest days, the Chamberlin Papers include rich correspondence between Chamberlin, fellow activists, survivors, and medical professionals; records of her work with the MPLF and other rights organizations, conferences and meetings, and her efforts to build the movement internationally.

Subjects
  • Antipsychiatry
  • Ex-mental patients
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
  • Mental Patients Liberation Front
  • Mental Patients Liberation Project
  • National Empowerment Center
Types of material
  • Videotapes

Clarke School for the Deaf

Clarke School for the Deaf Records, ca.1867-2010.
130 boxes (195 linear feet linear feet).
Call no.: MS 742

With a $50,000 grant from the philanthropist John Clarke, Gardiner Green Hubbard founded the Clarke Institution for Deaf Mutes in 1867, a school predicated on the importance of acquiring oral skills for children with hearing loss. Opened in Northampton, Mass., under the direction of Harriet B. Rogers, Clarke differed philosophically from schools such as the American School for the Deaf, where sign language was used for instruction, by stressing speech-reading and speech as the primary methods of communication. With notable supporters such as Alexander Graham Bell, Clarence W. Barron, and Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace (a former teacher), the school became a pioneer in training teachers in auditory and oral methods and in recognizing the importance of early intervention and mainstreaming children into neighborhood schools. Working in partnership with Smith College, Clarke began offering a master’s degree in Education of the Deaf in 1962. Known as the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech since 2010, the school has opened additional campuses in Boston (1995), Jacksonville (1996), New York (1999), and Philadelphia (2001).

The records of the Clarke School offer rich documentation of the history of oral deaf education in the United States and insight into the experience of deafness in America. The collection includes extensive correspondence of school administrators and teachers, organizational materials, records of the school’s programs, and an essentially complete run of the school’s annual reports and other publications. An extensive set of genealogical and genetic records generated by the research staff at the school is restricted for 75 years from the date of creation.

Subjects
  • Deaf--Education
  • Deafness--Genetic aspects
  • Teachers of the deaf
Contributors
  • Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
  • Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922
  • Coolidge, Grace Goodhue, 1879-1957
Types of material
  • Minutes (Administrative records)
  • Photographs

Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991

Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991.
389 boxes (583.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 371

Silvio Conte, 1973
Silvio Conte, 1973

Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.

Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Massachusetts. Senate
  • United States--Politics and government--20th century
  • United States. Congress. House
Contributors
  • Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings

International Center for the Disabled

International Center for the Disabled Records, 1917-2012.
73 boxes (108 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 792

Founded in 1917, the International Center for the Disabled was the nation’s first outpatient rehabilitiation center. With the support of benefactor Jeremiah Millbank, the ICD was dedicated to helping disabled veterans reintegrate into all aspects of American life. Over the years, it has assumed a leading role in development of the profession of physical medicine, training physicians and nurses for the Veterans Administration, creating rehabilitation programs for the Army and VA, manufacturing prosthetics, and providing vocational rehabilitation for disabled veterans and others. The ICD remains a leading international advocate for the needs of people with disabilities and was instrumental in passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, remaining true to their mission of training people with barriers to employment as they enter the workforce.

The ICD collection includes a rich array of official minutes, correspondence, and publications documenting the development of rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities, and a remarkable record of the success of a philanthropic enterprise. Of particular note are are the large holdings of photographs documenting ICD’s work from its early days through the dawn of the 21st century.

Subjects
  • Disabled veterans
  • People with disabilities--Rehabilitation
  • Veterans--Rehabilitation
Contributors
  • Milbank, Jeremiah, 1887-1972
Types of material
  • Photographs

Kahn, Paul S.

Paul S. Kahn Papers, 1964-2009.
10 boxes (17 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 786

An artist, writer, and activist for the disabled, Paul S. Kahn was born on Nov. 6, 1945, into a second-generation family of Jewish immigrants in Auburndale, Mass. Early in life, Kahn rebelled against the perceived “powerlessness” of the neuromuscular disorder with which he was born, pursuing an artistic, academic, and activist life. While studying drawing, painting, and sculpture at Boston University and earning a MA in counseling at Northeastern (1982), Kahn became an activist in the independent living movement and a pioneer in advocating for personal care assistance. Living independently from 1979, he worked as staff therapist at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, as leader of a support group for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and as a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Commission on Disability Policy. In 1980, Kahn met Ruth Stern, who would become his frequent collaborator and wife of 21 years. As Kahn’s physical condition weakened after 1987 and he became dependent upon a ventilator, his creative focus shifted increasingly from art to writing and editing. The last two decades of his life were remarkably productive, resulting in over twenty plays and dozens of published essays and poems, and he was the long-time editor of the newsletter Disability Issues. Kahn died on Jan. 1, 2010.

Paul Kahn’s papers are a reflection of the intensely creative life of a committed activist. The collection centers on Kahn’s literary work, including manuscripts of his plays, essays, and poetry, but it includes numerous examples of his artwork and a number of home movies and tape recordings from his childhood.

Subjects
  • People with disabilities and the arts
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
Types of material
  • Paintings (Visual works)

Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services

Northampton Area Mental Health Services Records, 1973-1983.
4 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 027

In 1973 Hampshire Day House was established to provide day treatment to patients released from the Northampton State Hospital, which first opened as the Northampton Lunatic Asylum in 1858. As the Day House expanded its services it became known as the Northampton Area Mental Health Services (NAMHS). Valley Programs assumed responsibility for the operation of residential programs for deinstitutionalized individuals in Hampshire and Franklin counties in 1983, and seven years later the NAMHS and Valley Programs merged.

The collection consists of reports, financial records, board minutes, and correspondence for the Hampshire Day House.

Subjects
  • Community mental health services
  • Mental health facilities
Contributors
  • Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services

Perske, Robert

Robert and Martha Perske Papers, 1964-2005.
13 boxes (19.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 772

Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004
Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004

While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.

The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.

Subjects
  • Mental retardation--Social aspects
  • People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
  • Perske, Martha
  • Williams, Robert R.
Types of material
  • Photographs

Special Collections and University Archives logo