Documenting the Disability Rights Movement in the New York Metropolitan Area

In 2022, we started a multi-year project to create an archive of documents, photographs, media, and other objects to preserve New York City Disability Rights history. Currently, there are few existing archives of materials about individuals and groups in the New York metropolitan region who have fought for equal access to employment, education, transportation, healthcare, and representation in government. 

In the next few years, we plan to collect and preserve documentation of these histories in a new archive at the College of Staten Island (CSI), CUNY in order to make them available for research and study. CSI is home to the Willowbrook archive and a number of research and training programs focused on disability. Read more about the CSI archives archives and special collections.

The goal of the project is to identify, collect, and maintain documentation of the civil rights movements for disability rights in New York City and the surrounding region. This includes records of: 

  • Activities such as protests, organizing, campaigns, lobbying, or lawsuits conducted by disabled people, their parents and caregivers, professionals, individual advocates, disability advocacy organizations, groups, and clubs,
  • Records of organizing by people who were physically disabled, blind and low-vision, d/Deaf or with hearing loss, and people with psychiatric, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities before a coordinated movement for disability rights and activism in the years since
  • Records of institutional practices that disabled people were trying to change.

We are looking for:

  • Documents (in print and digital formats)
  • Photographs (in print and digital formats)
  • Video or audio recordings of  events or oral histories (on tape or in digital formats)
  • Other objects of relevance to this history

Let us know if you have something you want to contribute to the archive. You can also sign up for updates, offer to volunteer to help with the project, or tell us about existing archives we may not know about.

Read our 3-year plan for documenting the disability rights movement in the New York Metropolitan Area.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.

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