Disability History

Disability history is a burgeoning field in disability studies. It examines disability as an historical construction and understands disability, along with class, race, gender and other categories, as contingent. Disability history scholars focus on the conditions that produce disability, and they use constructivist and emancipatory approaches. Wherever possible historians working in this field apply cross-disability perspectives and refer to the subjective experiences of people with disabilities. Disability history draws on social, cultural, and political history to show that disability is not an individual issue, but a structural one. It promises to generate new interpretative methods and to transform familiar disciplinary categories.

First Anthology of German Disability History


The first anthology of German Disability History, edited by Elsbeth Bösl, Anne Klein, and Anne Waldschmidt, offers an introduction to this new sub-discipline of historical research. It discusses theoretical and methodological issues, and presents a review of existing work. Nine case studies cover scientific constructions and subjective experiences, institutions and policies, body, art and culture. This book is a valuable resource for researchers, teachers, and students.

Elsbeth Bösl, Anne Klein, Anne Waldschmidt (Eds.)
Disability History
Constructions of disability in history:
an introduction

Bielefeld (transcript) 2010
More information in German

Workshop at the 47th Conference of German Historians 2008 in Dresden

Anne Waldschmidt, Anne Klein und Elsbeth Bösl organised a workshop on “dis/ability in history: Social inequality revisited” as part of the programme of the 47th Conference of German Historians, taking place from September 30 – October 3, 2008 in Dresden.

More information in German.

Encyclopedia of Disability

Director: Prof. Dr. Anne Waldschmidt
Term: 2002 – 2005
Funding: University of Cologne
Partners: Professor Gary Albrecht (General Editor), Professor David T. Mitchell, Professor Sharon L. Snyder (Associate Editors), University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

German Disability History

This project was part of the five volume “Encyclopedia of Disability”, published by Sage in 2006. An international editorial board of seventy-four editors from the Americas, Europe, Australia, India, Japan, and China, all experts in their own sub-fields of disability, developed this publication. The result is a multidisciplinary, cross- cultural, and historically grounded resource tool that guides the reader into the world of disability, its fields, theories, debates, and practices. The German sub-project comprised two parts: For volume 5, primary source documents of the German history of disability were collected; for volume 1-4, contributions from German- speaking scholars were elicited and edited.

Information in German and a list of references
Information about the Encyclopedia of Disability