2022 Outstanding Book Award

The Disability History Association is pleased to announce that Committed: Remembering Native Kinship in and Beyond Institutions by Susan Burch has been granted this year’s Outstanding Book Award.

The committee described the work as “a beautifully written and constructed book…that transforms the way that scholars think about and do “institutional histories.” It is “a powerful book that makes a huge contribution to the field” and “sheds light on the entanglement of settler colonialism, racism, ableism and sexism.” “The author does not write a top-down history but rather provides a microhistorical approach, focusing on the lived stories.” Committed is an “innovative and an important contribution to the field as Native American history has scarcely been explored through the lens of disability.” “More than traditional ‘history,’ it is a remembering, a reinvigoration of cultural memory nearly lost due to inaccessible institutional archives and direct oral traditions.”

The DHA is also pleased to announce that Familial Fitness: Disability, Adoption, and Family in Modern America by Sandra M. Sufian has been awarded this year’s Honorable Mention.

The committee shared the following assessment: “Sufian’s study…represents intersectional history at its best by unpacking numerous entanglements such as race, eugenics, and epidemics…The narrative is persuasive in showing how dominant views on normality and health in American society have shifted throughout the century.” Familial Fitness is a “masterful book…The analysis is clear, compelling, and well substantiated.” The book is “a well-argued and rigorously researched history of disability and adoption in the United States. The author shows clear mastery over the legal and systematic structures that dominate Modern American adoption processes.”


2022 Outstanding Article or Book Chapter Award

The Disability History Association (DHA) would like to congratulate Hannah Zeavin, winner of the 2022 DHA Outstanding Article or Book Chapter Award for “Hot and Cool Mothers,” differences 32, no. 3 (2021): 53–84.

Zeavin’s sophisticated article rose to the top of a highly competitive and wide-ranging group of submissions. Committee members described Zeavin’s work as “beautifully written and researched,” “theoretically adept,” and “exceptional in its braiding of feminist history, histories of disabled children, the ‘creation’ of disability, affect theory, discourse analysis, and histories of capitalism, race, and 20th century America.” Zeavin’s “fascinating” and “remarkable” article explores “how queerness and neurodivergence are said to be ‘produced’ in ways which stigmatize a variety of mothers. It shows, as such, how disability and disabled children are affectively and linguistically utilized as a tool for misogyny, racism, and ableism, pushing the field to think about disability more broadly than impairment.” The Committee particularly commended Zeavin’s work for its clarity and use of primary sources, bringing “together a wide range of philosophical, pop culture, professional and pedagogical supports for its argument.”

The Honorable Mention has been awarded to Evan Sullivan for “America’s living unknown soldiers: amnesia and veteran imposters after the Great War,” First World War Studies 12, no. 2 (2021): 155-171. The Committee noted that the author’s “exploration into neuro-psychiatric wounds—and amnesia in particular—was well researched. Sullivan brought out integral questions relating to the legitimacy of hidden disabilities and the ways in which they challenged assumptions about status, gender, and race.” The article made “impressive use of primary sources,” with “fascinating and compelling” case studies that “present a more subtle understanding of a common theme in disability history – the faking of impairments and suspicion of disabled people.” The Committee also commended Sullivan’s piece for being “tightly written, comprehensive, argumentative, and chronologically clear,” noting that its “elucidations of the web of anxiety in the post-war era of disability fakery, familial grief, a national desire to ‘return’ to normalcy, and restrictive welfare are masterful.”

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!

2016 DHA Outstanding Book Award

The DHA publication award committee faced an especially difficult challenge this year. It received the most submissions to date, reflecting both the breadth and the depth of the rich and growing field of disability history.

After careful consideration, the committee found that one book rose to the top of this very competitive field. Congratulations to Sara Scalenghe’s Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), the 2016 DHA Outstanding Book Award!

Comments from the prize committee:

“[Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800 is an] excellent contribution to disability history that helps open up a new and much needed non-Western (and preindustrial) perspective in the field. Beautifully written in clear and accessible prose, Scalenghe’s book is also a very enjoyable read.”

“Wonderful intervention on disability history: unique for its non-Western and pre-modern focus (as well as its points about “academic imperialism” in disability history)… Terrific examples and analysis of contingencies and ‘loopholes’ in Ottoman legal practices and categories.”

“…accessible and informative. [Disability in the Ottoman Arab World] continues the important work of globalizing disability studies; it opens up new possibilities for comparative approaches; and it challenges the category of disability itself.”


Paul K. Longmore, Telethons: Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity (Oxford University Press, 2016)

The prize committee remarked:

“[Telethons is a] superb study and a model of how to write disability history. Longmore’s book will surely be consulted by disability scholars and historians for years to come. Engagingly written and full of profound insights into a wide range of issues, it compellingly demonstrates the significance of disability to modern American culture.”

“… in-depth look at a common cultural phenomenon in America, impressive research and consideration of different factors (gender/social class, etc.), well-written and cited… [Longmore makes an] important intervention into the links between politics, the media, and private interests in constructing and presenting disability in modern U.S. discourse.”

Thanks to Cathy Kudlick and a dedicated group of disability scholars for working on bringing this book to publication and for making sure that Paul’s legacy, scholarship and impact upon our field and its genesis, lives on. Congratulations and deep felt gratitude to Paul for his monumental contributions to our field.