Our 2021 Conference

Living with Disabilities in New England, 1630–1930

Virtual Program Presented Via Zoom Webinar

Friday, June 25, 2021

Welcome from Historic Deerfield

Friday Panel: Defining Disability
Moderator: Robert P. Emlen, Brown University

Laurel Daen, “The Capacity of Jerusha Wooster: Disability, Law, and Community in Colonial Connecticut”

Graham Warder, “Blue Afflictions: How the Civil War Transformed the Definition of Disability for New Englanders.”

Casey L. Green, “The Language of Impairment: Disability among New England Men, 1690-1800.”

Keynote Conversation

Scholar and advocate Laurie Block is the co-founder and Executive Director of Straight Ahead Pictures. Her work in disability history includes the four hour NPR radio series, Beyond Affliction: the Disability History Project, winner of the 1999 Robert Kennedy Radio Journalism Award, and she is currently writing, producing and directing Becoming Helen Keller, a 90-minute film biography for American Masters. Her award-winning film, FIT: Episodes in The History of The Body, was broadcast on PBS. Laurie Block was a founding board member of the Disability History Association, and is also the founder and Executive Director of the Disability History Museum. She also served as an adviser to the Vermont based Community Genetics and Ethics Project. She is the parent, with John Crowley, of a child with a disability.

Moderator: Marla Miller, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Panel 1: Disability and Communities of Faith
Moderator: Georgia Barnhill, American Antiquarian Society (retired)

Andrew J. Juchno, “‘The Fancies and Whimsies of People over-run with Melancholy’: Melancholy and the New England Church from Cotton Mather to Jonathan Edwards”

Ross W. Beales, Jr., ‘‘‘[E]ither insane, enthusiastical, or in Liquor’: An Eighteenth-Century New England Minister’s Response to Mental Illnesses”

Katherine R. Ranum, “Hearing the Gospel in a Silent World: Understanding the Intersection of Theology, Disability and Religious Practice in the Early Modern British Atlantic”

Panel 2: Disability and Military Service in 18th Century New England
Moderator: Kate Viens

Ben Mutschler, “For Service and Suffering: Invalid Pensioners in Colonial Massachusetts” 

Benjamin H. Irvin, “‘[A] number of Toes & a quantity of good health’: The ‘Black Regiment’ and Veterans’ Disability after the Revolutionary War”

Jennifer W. Reiss, “‘Pity That So Fine a Man Has Lost His Leg’: Gouverneur Morris and Early American Disability”

Lunch Break

We invite anyone who wishes to learn about Peter Benes’ remarkable career and share recollections of his life to gather with the Dublin Seminar Advisory Committee during the lunch hour to celebrate his life and legacy. (20 minutes)

Panel 3: Disability and Labor
Moderator: William D. Moore, Boston University 

Michael J. Chiarappa, “Heroic and Disabled: Howard Blackburn and the Valorization of the New England Fisherman”

Jerrad Pacatte, “‘Fitness for Freedom’: The Lived Experience of Disability, Enslavement, and Emancipation in Early New England”

Meg Roberts, “‘Useful Members of Society’: Work and Capacity in Deaf and Blind Schools and Asylums for the Mentally Ill, 1817–1840”

Panel 4: Histories of Childhood, Youth and Disability
Moderator: Barbara A. Mathews, Historic Deerfield 

Rebecca A.R. Edwards, “Deafness in Black and White: Integration at the American School for the Deaf, 1825–1870”

Emily Seger, “‘The child is now a child’: Linear Craniotomies and the Medicalization of Children’s Disability in New England, 1876–1910”

Natalie Wright, “‘Monstrous Baby Carriages’: Baby and Invalid Carriages in Gilded Age New England”

Capstone Presentation

Nicole Belolan, “Folklife and the Material Culture of Disability History in Early America”

Thanks to:

Emerging America at the Collaborative for Educational Services for facilitating professional development opportunities for K-12 educators. 

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Public History Program, the UMass Department of History, and the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University for co-sponsoring the CART live captioning provided by CaptionAccess.