Join scholars and archivists as they discuss the strengths and limitations of historical records from state-run institutions to reflect the personal stories of institutionalized people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
For generations, researchers have faced barriers to accessing the historical files of institutionalized people. Learn about the multiyear effort to preserve historical records from state-run institutions and the new policies that have opened them for research. These materials offer a rare, individual-focused approach to exploring the early history of institutionalization in Pennsylvania.
Though fragmentary, these historical records provide glimpses into individual people whose lives were profoundly shaped by the system of institutionalization in Pennsylvania. While the primary focus will be on records from institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this program will also address access to early records from state hospitals for people with mental illness.