The Historical Events That Shaped the Disabled Narrative

  • 400

    400 B.C.

    400 B.C. - Society viewed people with disabilities as those who were possessed by the devil or as sinners. They were tortured, burned at the stake or left to die.
  • Jan 1, 1000

    Middle Ages

    Middle Ages
    Middle Ages - Society continued to view people with disabilties as those who were inhabited by the devil or had fallen from spiritual favor. Some were labeled as witches, many of whom were women. These people were tourtured or executed because of their disability.
  • Early 1600's

    Early 1600's
    People with disabilities were pushed onto the streets because they were kicked out of shelters and hospitals. In order to receive food and money, these people were given a cap to beg for alms. On the streets, these people provided a form of entertainment and endured humiliation in return for food and shelter.
  • 1700's

    Special schools for treatment of children with disabilities began.
  • Period: to

    Institutions Exist

  • 1800's

    People with disabilities were placed under the care of medical professionals, professional educators and social workers. In the United States, almshouses, institutions and asylums increased in number. State mental hospitals were the first formal system of public care for people with disabilities. These quickly turned from small intimate, personal care places into large, impersonal "human warehouses." Segregation and sterilization were treatment terms during this time.
  • 1849

    Massachusetts School for Idiotic Children and Youth in Boston was created.
  • 1883

    Eugenics movement led to the passing of laws in preventing people with disabilities in moving to the United States, marrying or having children. In many cases this led to institutionalization and forced sterilization of people.
  • Late 1800's

    Late 1800's
    State mental hospitals were over-crowded and people were treated inhumanely.
  • Period: to

    Eugenics Movement - Sterilization

  • 1920

    Institutionalization was thought of as the best method. People with disabilities were seen as a "drag on civilization."
  • 1922

    Eugenics movement continues with a specific list of "defective" groups that sterilization was required.
  • 1924

    1924- Virginia passes a state law saying that sterilization could occur without consent of the people.
  • 1927

    1927 - Buck vs. Bell - There aren't any restraints put on sterilization. More than 60,000 people were sterilized without consent.