Incurable Defects: Physical Disability and the Philadelphia Outdoor Relief System, 1790-1840
Schroeder, Nicole, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Edelson, Scott, Department of History, University of Virginia
"Incurable Defects" offers a reading of 19th century American welfare debates using a disability studies lens. Providing data analysis on welfare pensioners in the city of Philadelphia throughout the 1820s, this paper rewrites disabled individuals into the history of the city. I argue that disabled individuals shaped the emerging medico-welfare system alongside influences from citizen taxpayers, doctors, and government officials. I offer a complicated narrative that helps to trace the history of ableism in American culture and lays out the divergent paths our welfare system might have taken outside of institutionalization.
MA (Master of Arts)
welfare, disability history, 19th century, medical history, Philadelphia
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