Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flickr: Judge Quentin D. Corley (1884-1980)

Judge Quentin D. Corley (LOC)
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress

Another disability history image thanks to the Flickr Commons project. This one is from the Library of Congress's set from the George Grantham Bain Collection, news photos from 1910-1915. Here we see Judge Quentin D. Corley (as the title suggests), driving a very early model car with steering wheel adaptations for his prosthetic left hand; the right sleeve of his jacket appears to be empty. Corley looks to be a young man wearing a white summer hat.

Quentin Durward Corley was born in 1884 in Mexia, Texas. As a young clerk in 1905, he lost both hands, his right arm, and his right shoulder in a railroad accident near Utica, New York. Corley went into a law career, passing the bar in Dallas County in 1907; in 1908 he became a justice of the peace, and in 1912 he was elected a county judge--the youngest county judge in Texas at the time. He also developed and patented the prosthetic hand he's shown using here--which allowed him to drive, type, button, cut, light a match, and write with a pen better than other available options. He toured the state of Texas alone by car to publicize his campaign for a girls' training school in the state. Corley died in 1980, age 96.

The Dallas Observer's blog wrote up this photo last fall. But they refer to a much earlier newspaper's treatment of the story: in 1918, under the title "Handicaps of Fate Defied by Cripples," the New York Times reported that Corley spoke a meeting at the then-new Red Cross Institute for Crippled and Disabled Men in New York City that year, intended to encourage returning World War I veterans who may have similar physical impairments. Other speakers at the meeting were Michael J. Dowling, a bank president from Olivia, Minnesota (and a triple amputee from severe frostbite in his youth); and Frederick W. Keough, a representative of the National Association of Manufacturers, who discussed the issues of rehabilitation and employment for disabled veterans.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flickr: Jack and Della Mae Smith in Front of the Beer Joint He Operates in Rhodell, West Virginia, near Beckley 06/1974

Jack and Della Mae Smith in Front of the Beer Joint He Operates in Rhodell, West Virginia, near Beckley 06/1974
Originally uploaded by The U.S. National Archives

The Flickr Commons project continues to include images from the history of disability. In this 1974 color photo from the US National Archives, we see Jack Smith with his wife, seated under an "RC" sign. Jack is in a wheelchair. The couple have their arms across each other's shoulders, and Jack seems to be smiling at something Della Mae is saying.

The US National Archives Flickr stream includes other photos of Jack Smith from 1974: alone, holding the family dog, with one of his young daughters, with three of his daughters, with two of his brothers, heading down the street, and working on a union poster. All the photos were taken by photojournalist Jack Corn as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Documerica project.

Jack Smith was a new coalminer in West Virginia when he lost both legs in a mine cave-in, years before these photos taken. He remained active in union work, and ran a "beer joint" with Della Mae in Rhodell, West Virginia. In the notes attached to one of the photos in the series, it says "During the Strike for Black Lung Benefits His Wife Wheeled Him in Front of a Train to Stop It."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17: Mrs. McGrath

Two years ago, I posted about the song "Paddy's Lamentation" for St. Patrick's Day--it's a US Civil War-era song about an Irish immigrant who joins the Union Army and loses a leg in battle. This year, another Irish ballad about a disabled veteran--and his mother.

"Mrs. McGrath" (aka "Mrs. McGraw") is at least two hundred years old, but like a lot of ballads it gets adapted to the current circumstances as needed. It's sometimes sung as a dialog between Mrs. McGrath and her son Ted, back from war with both legs amputated. Some of the verses:
O captain, dear, where have you been,
Have you been sailing in the Meditereen,
And have you any tidings of my son Ted,
Is the poor boy alive or is he dead?

Well, up comes Ted, without any legs,
And in their place he's got two wooden pegs.
She kissed him a dozen times or two,
Crying, Holy Moses, it isn't you

Now was you drunk, or was you blind,
When you left your two fine legs behind,
Or was it walking upon the sea,
Wore your two fine legs from the knees away?

No, I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't blind
When I left my two fine legs behind,
But a big cannon ball on the fifth of May,
Tore my two fine legs from the knees away.

Oh Teddy, my boy, the widow cried,
Your two fine legs were your mamma's pride,
The stumps of a tree won't do at all,
Why didn't you run from the big cannon ball?

All foreign wars, I do proclaim,
Between Don Juan and the King of Spain,
And I'll make them rue the time
They took two legs from a child of mine.
Here's an upbeat version from Tommy Makem, and another from Pete Seeger. For a more somber contemporary version, here's Bruce Springsteen:

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15: Sue Boyce (b. 1951)

[Visual description: family portrait of Australian senator Sue Boyce, who is shown with her three adult children, two women and a man; one of the daughters has Down Syndrome. All are smiling and embracing each other.]

"Anytime we allow people with a disability to be treated as special people who should live or learn or work or spend their leisure time in special places, we are shutting people with a disability out of the mainstream."

Happy birthday to Australian senator from Queensland, Sue Boyce, who has made disability rights issues a priority of her legislative work. She's currently serving on the committee to consider Australian immigration laws on the subject of disability. She is also a past president of the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland. Last week, she called a controversial decision of the Family Court in Brisbane concerning the sterilization of an 11-year-old disabled girl "appalling....completely discriminatory and inhumane."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

glass half empty?

Attending the first New Jersey Bike Summit last Saturday, February 27, drove home thee points for me.

1. The bicycle community is always fighting an uphill battle to gain recognition from the broader community. Solidarity is essential if we we are going to counter the predominant auto-mobility bias in contemporary transport.

2. The bicyle community can to more to recognize the physical activity needs of the disability community. The vulnerablity of disabled people, whether as pedestrians or as bike/trike riders, is vastely underrecognized. When incidents are covered, they are typically framed in the personal tragedy model. When I look at the coverage of traffic fatality "epidemic" in Toronto, Canada since January 1, 2010, I see again and again vulnerable populations, whether cane users or women with small children, getting killed.

2. I agree with bicycle activists that riding on city streets is a political act. Let's recognize our kindred, people with disabilities, who will walk or ride for enjoyment, certainly, but who are often using the streets because they have no alternative.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #64 is up NOW!

Wait, WHAT?

Didn't we just post about carnival #63 last week?

Indeed we did. But Athena, Ivan, and the Integral are trying something different for the March edition. They're accepting and posting submissions all month long! Go check it out, and watch it unfurl as the month does. Follow the instructions at their blog to send in a link for consideration, and to read more about what they're looking for this time.

The April carnival will be hosted by Twxee at River of Jordan, and her theme idea last we talked was "balance." Think on that!

Monday, March 01, 2010

History Blog Carnival #85: Winter Olympics Edition

[Image above: Five Women Posed with Skis, Leavenworth WA, 1931; from the University of Washington Digital Collections, uploaded to Flickr Commons 1 February 2010]

As I assemble this carnival, there seems to be a big-deal hockey game in progress, somewhere well to the north of my sunny beach town. Historians don't need goalie pads or speedsuits to do their thing, thank goodness, but it might still be advisable to wear a helmet and bring a broom some days. Aha, here they come now, the history bloggers, skiing and skating through time and across space...

HOCKEY: Watch that Puck
In the two-part post Particularities of Partition Literature at Chapati Mystery, Lapata explores how historians sometimes handle the experience of overwhelming events by passing the puck to fiction writers:
Major historical events lend themselves to fictional narratives precisely because massive population displacements caused by war or other disasters open up spaces in which to experiment...But fiction does not fill the gaps in the historical record, good historiography does.
Elementaryhistoryteacher at the American Presidents blog writes The Ostend Manifesto to raise the question, what would have happened if Spain had sold Cuba to the US in 1854?

SKELETON: Or posts about becoming one
The Gentleman Administrator's King Death features a broadside of, well, King Death--aka "The Woefull Mirrour of Monarchy"--a woodcut against the reign of Charles II. (shown at left--skeleton wearing crown and robes, holding scepter and a sign reading "The Woefull Mirrour of Monarchy," sitting in a field skulls, under a stormy sky.)

At the Vapour Trail, Melissa Bellanta remembers This Holocaust of Ballet Girls: the tragic combination of hot stage lighting and gauzy dancing costumes meant that audiences in the 1840s might witness loveliness --or a terrible death-- from their theatre seats.

Raucous Royals encounters London's Most Deadly Invader --itself an impressive athlete in some ways. (Don't read this one with lunch next to the keyboard.)

SUPER GIANT SLALOM: Or, research takes the long way
Tim Abbott's Where was John Polhemus... at Walking the Berkshires is part of an extensive series investigating the Court Martial of a Colonel of the New Jersey Line in 1779. In this episode, the factual assertions of a Revolutionary War veteran's memoirs are tested against other records, and found to be exaggerated at best.

William Shepherd's current project on the 479AD battle of Plataea is another research challenge: of those 1,000-piece monsters, perhaps a detailed old-master landscape, but the cat has been comprehensively sick on the lid of the box and, inside, there are only about 50 random pieces, some of them just bits of sea or sky. One or two of the pieces may possibly fit together, but there is an awful lot of space to fill-in in between.
Meanwhile, Joachim Neander responds to a Holocaust denier about a specific event in 1941, at Holocaust Controversies, with hard details.

FIGURE SKATING: History is not as glamorous as it sometimes looks
The Bloom of Ninon was marketed as a lovely cosmetic preparation--but as Caroline Rance notes, an emulsion of white lead wasn't safe to spread on anyone's skin. Lauren Hewes at Past is Present observed a February holiday with a collection of Hairy Valentines (shudder).

A man swapping eyes with a falcon? Welcome to medieval Iceland.

CURLING: Looks funny at first, but look closer
Continuing the animal-human theme, Strange Maps has a map (imagine that) of the Secret Caves of the Lizard People -- under 1930s Los Angeles, of course. The Wellcome Library has graphs and posters related to the Swiss temperance movement of the early 20th century, including one tracing a close relationship between the price of schnapps and admissions of alcoholics to lunatic asylums. And a pink bathroom for your son? Nothing remarkable about that, in a 1954 plumbing ad at Retro Renovation.

SNOWBOARDING: New stuff to check out
The London School of Economics Archives blog, Out of the Box, announces a new online resource called "Round About a Pound a Week," which digitizes the household budgets of working-class women in 1909-1913 Lambeth.

The gold medal for best snow-related history blog post title in February 2010 goes to M, for "Did Alexander the Great Fight a Yeti?" Being the World History Blog, I'm not sure which anthem to play for you, so maybe this is a good place for the closing ceremonies to begin. To cap off the carnival for this edition, the Library of Congress blog Inside Adams has a nice collection of links to their online resources on the history of winter sports.

Hosting the History Blog Carnival is fun--so fun that this is my third time around the track. Join the team! Sharon Howard is always looking for volunteers.

Thanks to all the contributors to this carnival: Manan Ahmed, Dainty Ballerina, Melissa Bellanta, Carlyn Beccia, Tim Abbott, Joseph McCullough, Sergey Romanov, Jennie W