A Historical Overview of Disability and Employment in the United States, 1600 to 1950

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Stephanie Patterson


Disability, labor, US history


Through a preliminary review of existing literature and archival source materials, this brief overview begins the task of compiling existing data about the history of disability and employment in the United States. A chronological framework is used that includes employment–related phenomena. The major topics covered are pre-industrial rural life, post-industrial work opportunities and the government’s response to the employment needs of disabled veterans. In addition, due to relevance to the topic, there is a brief mention of freak shows and the dawning disability rights movement after WWI.

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