New DHA Partnership: University of Illinois Press Disability Histories Prize

From the University of Illinois Press:

The University of Illinois Press is pleased to announce a new prize in partnership with the Disability Histories series and the Disability History Association. The Outstanding Dissertation in Disability History prize will be awarded annually, beginning in 2023, to recognize and reward exceptional work in disability history done by early-career scholars.

The winner will receive $1000 and an advance contract with the University of Illinois Press to publish their revised manuscript in the Disability Histories series. The prize award is contingent upon the author’s acceptance of the contract with the University of Illinois Press.

The prize is open to any dissertation written in English and defended within the three years preceding the award’s submission deadline. For the 2023 prize, we will consider dissertations defended between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022. Revised dissertations are welcomed and encouraged. Eligible dissertations may be submitted more than once for this prize.

To apply, please send a screen-readable PDF of your dissertation (or revised dissertation), CV, and cover letter with contact information to Alison Syring ( with the subject line “Outstanding Dissertation in Disability History” by May 30, 2023. Receipt of the application will be acknowledged, and the winner will be announced by September 30, 2023.

Upcoming Workshop: Requesting and Writing Effective Letters of Recommendation

Image Description: The poster contains a white background with two cut spheres composed of graded purple lines in the background. One sphere is in the top right corner and the other, larger sphere is in the centre to the left, with three purple lines in descending order of length on top of it. In the foreground, at the top, there is black text reading “The Disability History Association: Requesting and Writing Letters of Recommendation.” In the bottom right quadrant, there is text reading “Interactive Workshop with Susan Burch and Kim E. Nielsen, Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 2-5pm EST. For more details visit” At the bottom left is a QR code and the bottom right has the logos for Body Language Productions and White Coat Captioning.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 4:00-5:00 PM EST

In this interactive workshop, Susan Burch and Kim E. Nielsen will offer guidance on requesting and writing letters of recommendation. The workshop will address the “why” and “how” of content, format, and tone.
Issues spotlighted in this session include common and complicated questions regarding seeking and composing letters of recommendation: 

  • Context
  • Disclosure
  • Pronouns
  • Audience
  • Tips for tailoring letters.

There will be sample materials, checklists, and intentional time for discussion. 

Intended Audience: Graduate students, professional academic historians, colleagues working in history-related fields and institutions. 

Please register by clicking this link. Captioning and ASL will be provided.

Award Announcement: 2018 DHA Outstanding Book Award

The DHA board would like to congratulate Sarah F. Rose, winner of the 2018 DHA Outstanding Book Award for No Right to Be Idle: The Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

No Right to Be Idle rose to the top of a highly competitive group of submissions. Committee members had the following praise for Rose’s work:

It “is a much-needed examination of how ideas about bodily difference and productivity became linked during the nineteenth century, and an exploration of the contradictions inherent in the suggestion that disability meant an inability to perform labor – most importantly… in the ways that figures of authority called for the institutionalization of apparently unproductive disabled people, but at the same time reinvigorated economically-strapped institutions by giving them unlimited access to the unpaid labor of these ‘unproductive’ inmates. In this way, such unpaid labor stopped being work and became, instead, therapy.”

No Right to Be Idle “ably tackles one of the big themes of disability — its connection to the labor force — and gives us a fundamental recalibration in how people with disabilities were labeled and pushed out of the labor force rather than having ex ante impairments that made them ‘unfit’ laborers. It shows the malleability of the disability label within historical context.”

The 2018 Honorable Mention has been awarded to Molly Ladd-Taylor for Fixing the Poor: Eugenic Sterilization and Child Welfare in the Twentieth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). Committee members offered the following praise for Fixing the Poor: “This book clearly and powerfully argues for a reconceptualization of the history of American eugenics, one … focused on the practical needs and desires of impoverished, institutionalized people themselves.” It “ties eugenics to broader welfare state policies.” “Carefully researched and powerfully argued!”

Congratulations to Sarah Rose and Molly Ladd-Taylor!

2018 NEH Summer Institute: Global Histories of Disability

We are delighted to announce “Global Histories of Disability!” This four-week NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers will take place at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. from June 18 to July 13, 2018. The Institute will host twenty-five scholars from different disciplines and at different stages in their careers, including up to three advanced graduate students and at least five non-tenure track faculty, who share a strong interest in the history of disability. Each participant will receive a $3,300 stipend to help defray travel and living expenses.

The Institute’s goals are to examine the development and main theoretical and methodological debates of this rich and vibrant field; to engage in an intellectually rigorous exploration of how different societies throughout history have understood, experienced, and responded to impairments of the senses, of the body, and of the mind; and to suggest tools, resources, and strategies to incorporate disability into teaching and research.

Gallaudet and guest faculty include Douglas Baynton, Jeff Brune, Susan Burch, Brian Greenwald, Catherine Kudlick, John Kinder, Gene Mirus, David Mitchell, Aparna Nair, Katherine Ott, Michael Rembis, Sharon Snyder, Wayne Tan, David Turner, and Wendy Turner.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2018. Applicants will be notified about the status of their application on March 28. For more information, visit or contact Sara Scalenghe, Institute Director, at